Apple iPad owners outnumber Amazon Kindle owners, according to one analyst's estimates. Amazon faces e-book pressures not only from Apple, but from Google and other booksellers too.
Apple's iPad has surpassed the estimated ownership base of
the Amazon Kindle, according to a July 21 analyst report, and it could exert
considerable long-term pressure on the e-reader-as well as erode Amazon.com's
leverage with publishers.
"Last night, Apple stated it has shipped 3.27 [million] iPads since the
April product launch, surpassing our estimate for an installed base of [around
3 million] Amazon Kindles to date despite supply constraints," Marianne Wolk,
an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote in a co-authored research
note to investors. "However, Kindle device sales have also accelerated
recently, with the growth rate of Kindle units up 3x since the June 21 price
reduction from $259 to $189."
One Amazon advantage, Wolk added, is its early lead in e-book sales, as well
as the overall scope of its offerings: "As Amazon offers more than 630,000
e-books to readers, it has a considerable selection advantage relative to
Apple's far narrower title base of 75,000, suggesting Amazon has benefitted
short term from the iPad's momentum."
In the long term, however, the online retailer will face additional
pressures: from Google and its plans to launch e-book competitor Google
Editions; from other e-readers, such as Barnes & Noble's Nook; and from
publishers, who will see the iPad's expanding ownership base and use that as leverage
in negotiations with Amazon.
"As [Apple's] supply constraints ease, Apple iPad shipments should ramp and
it could ship as many as 12-15 [million] iPads in 2010-a compelling base for
publishers to consider," Wolk wrote. "At these rates, the iPad should dwarf the
installed base of Amazon's dedicated Kindle eReader. Thus, Amazon could see its
share of eBooks diminish as Apple's iPad continues to gain traction."
sold 3.27 million iPads in the third fiscal quarter of 2010, contributing
to its total revenue of $15.7 billion and a net quarterly profit of $3.25
billion. Analyst firm iSuppli predicted in a July 20 research note that Apple
would ship 12.9 million iPads in 2010, followed by 36.5 million in 2011 and
50.4 million in 2012.
Amazon has argued that the Kindle's e-ink screen offers a better reading
experience and superior battery life than do tablets such as the iPad, although
it has also made a Kindle application available to both the iPad and various other
In its competition against other booksellers, Amazon has resorted to price
cuts; in response to Barnes & Noble dropping the cost of the Nook from $259
to $199, the Kindle's own price tumbled from $259 to $189. Other e-readers,
including the Kobo offered by Borders, already retail in the $149-to-$169
recent software updates to the Kindle and Kindle DX, including a social
networking aspect that draws on Twitter and Facebook, suggests the retailer is
also interested in building out its devices' functionality to better compete
with the iPad's wide range of features. Barnes & Noble has made similar
updates to its software.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.