Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader faces a growing threat from the Apple iPad, according to a new survey by ChangeWave Research. After polling 2,800 consumers, the analysis firm concluded that the iPad's share of the e-reader market had expanded from 16 percent to 32 percent between August and November, while the Kindle's dipped from 62 percent to 47 percent.
Barnes & Noble's Nook franchise held 4 percent of the market, a shade behind the Sony Reader at 5 percent.
Perhaps more worrisome for Amazon, around 42 percent of respondents in the market for an e-reader said they would purchase the iPad, versus 33 percent for the Kindle. Of current iPad and Kindle owners, some 75 percent reported being "very satisfied" with their iPad, while 54 percent of Kindle owners said the same. With regard to content, iPad owners tend to consume more newspapers, magazines and blogs on their device than Kindle owners.
Apple's iPad surpassed the Kindle's estimated install base earlier in 2010, according to an analyst. "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 July 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."
Amazon subsequently unveiled its third-generation Kindle July 28. With a higher-contrast e-ink screen, longer battery life, Wikipedia access and support for password-protected PDFs, the device seemed designed to press the Kindle's advantage in the e-reader market. Although still reluctant to offer hard numbers, Amazon insists that the newest version of the Kindle is rapidly outselling its predecessors.
As 2010 comes to a close, however, the retailer now faces pressure from not only the Apple iPad-which continues to sell at a prodigious rate-but also the newly introduced Nook Color.
Analytics company In-Stat has estimated e-reader shipments as rising from 12 million units in 2010 to 35 million in 2014. In addition to the iPad, the Kindle and Nook face competition from upcoming tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Dell Streak. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble offer free e-reader software for download on a variety of PCs and mobile devices, in respective bids to increase the reach of their e-bookstores.