Apple iPhone, Android Smartphones Driving E-Reading

Smartphones, not Kindles, are the most popular devices for e-reading in the United States, according to a study from Wattpad-which has found big readers in Apple iPhone and Android owners.

The increasing adoption of smartphones, particularly of the Apple iPhones and Android-running handsets, is helping to drive e-book consumption, according to an Aug. 26 report from e-book service Wattpad.

Analyzing a snapshot of user habits from 600 mobile operators across 160 countries, the e-book application company, which facilitates 1 million downloads per month, found that it is hardly just dedicated e-readers enabling the e-book trend. During the second quarter, e-book downloads by the Apple family of products-that would be iPhones, iPads and iPods-grew by 23 percent, compared to 9 percent during the first quarter.

A closer look at this group found that the iPad, since its April launch in the United States, has grown to account for 5 percent of Apple usage, while various iPhone models account for 46 percent and iPods for 49 percent. Taking a world view, Americans are by far Wattpad's biggest user group, accounting for 54 percent of those using their iPhone for e-reading, followed by readers in Spain-who during the second quarter accounted for 10 percent of the pie, passing iPhone e-readers in the United Kingdom, who accounted for 8 percent.

Android devices-which joined the market with a startling growth grate of 590 percent during the third quarter of 2009, followed by 260 percent in the fourth quarter that year-has steadied out to a growth rate near that of Apple's. During the first quarter of 2010, Android devices downloading e-books increased by a rate of 29 percent, which dipped to 25 percent in the second quarter. Java devices, driven mainly by adoption in Asia, posted growth of 34 percent during the first quarter and 56 percent during the second quarter.

The group not so into e-books, Wattpad suggests? That would be the BlackBerry crowd. During the first quarter of 2010, e-book reading on RIM handsets grew by just 4 percent, which during the second quarter fell to negative 9 percent.

"We are continuously impressed with the variety of devices readers use to consume e-books," Ivan Yuen, CTO and co-founder of Wattpad, said in a statement. "Six to 12 months ago, people only thought about the major e-reader offerings and the iPhone. But in the last quarter we've seen incredible growth in the usage of iPads and Android tablets, as well as netbooks and other mobile devices. I expect this trend to continue. E-books that are only available on one device or in one format will be missing out on many fast-growing segments of the market."

Wattpad additionally found readers in English to dominate its business-the United States led, with 70 percent, followed by the United Kingdom with 14 percent, Australia with 8 percent and Canada with 7 percent. These English readers are also increasingly turning to online book consumption, versus mobile e-book consumption, Wattpad found. During the first quarter, readers in English-speaking countries contributed to 58 percent of its online e-book consumption, which rose to 59 percent during the second quarter - while mobile e-book consumption climbed from 31 percent in the first quarter to 20 percent in the second.

Worldwide, 40 percent of readers in the United States enjoyed their e-books on desktops, compared to 21 percent in Vietnam, 10 percent in the United Kingdom and 5 percent in Canada. In Australia, 4 percent of e-books were read on desktops, versus 3 percent in the Philippines, 2 percent in India and 1 percent in both Indonesia and India.

Still one of the purists who prefer a dedicated device for your e-reading? For you, Amazon began shipping its latest-generation Kindle Aug. 25. Capable of holding more than 670,000 titles, it features a higher-contrast e-ink screen, longer battery life, a lighter weight and a nicer price tag, retailing for $189, or $139 with WiFi connectivity only.