Some of the newer and more popular gadgets of recent years are already on the express lane to obsolescence, according to two technology research companies.

E-readers, handheld devices designed for the purposes of downloading and viewing books, are quickly being surpassed by multi-function tablet computers, according to data from Massachusetts-based market research firm International Data Corporation.

IDC predicted last week that manufacturers will sell 19.9 million e-readers by year’s end. That’s a one-third drop from the number of e-readers sold in 2011.

While that is still a high number, IDC also said more than 120 million tablets will sell in the same time frame.

Consider it part of the natural evolution of technology: Color television became more popular than black and white, compact discs surpassed cassette tapes, and DVD players succeeded VCRs.

For many shoppers, tablets may simply be a better deal.

Accomplishing everything an e-reader can do, tablets also offer access to the Web, email, videos and games. Newer tablets from Google, Amazon and Barnes & Noble even match the small size of many e-readers and have prices below $200.

Google Maps, next iPhone generate buzz

“Our long, national nightmare is over.”

That tweet, seen on Wednesday night as Google unveiled its official Google Maps app for iOS devices, may well sum up the sentiments of many Apple mobile users.

Google powered the data on Apple’s Maps app since the inception of the first iPhone. But during the summer, in a split between the two companies, Apple decided to create its own mapping service instead.

The result, after Apple introduced its new app in September, was inaccurate information showing mangled roads and bridges, incorrect city names and entire locales wiped off the map.

Apple users almost immediately began clamoring for Google to launch its own app. Apple CEO Tim Cook even went so far as to issue a public apology for its Maps app and fire the company’s vice president in charge of iOS software.

The new Google Maps program offers voice-guided navigation, live traffic data and the company’s ground-level Street View maps. It is available as a free download in the iOS App Store.

As downloads of Google’s program surged last week, rumors of some future Apple devices began surfacing as well.

One market analyst, Peter Misek of Jeffries & Company, reported that Apple could release an iPhone 5S as early as June, with an upgraded camera and multiple color options similar to what the company offers in its iPod Touch lineup.

Apple typically introduces new devices on an annual basis, but with consumer demand for Apple products at an all-time high, there is reason to believe it may be speeding up releases. The company in October announced its fourth-generation iPad, less than seven months after bringing the third-generation iPad to market.

Additionally, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that Apple is working to design a television set.

The designs Apple is creating are for a large set with a high resolution, sources close to the company said.