The Amazon Kindle, the grandfather of all eReaders, is losing ground fast to the Apple iPad tablet, while an even younger upstart, B&N’s NOOKColor, begins to gain footing in the race, according to industry reports this week.
In a study conducted among current eReader owners, market researcher ChangeWave discovered that ownership of the iPad doubled over three short months, from 16% of all eReader owners in August of 2010 to 32% in November.
While the Kindle managed to hold on to the lead, its ownership figures dropped from 62% in August to just 47% — or less than half of the market — by November.
The survey results also indicated that, by and large, iPad users are happier with their purchases. About 76% of iPad owners said they are “very satisfied” with their devices, in contrast to merely 54% for Kindle.
Another 21% of the iPad owners were “somewhat satisfied,” while 38% of the Kindle owners gave that response. On the other hand, few seemed miserable. The percentages of eReader owners either “somewhat unsatisfied” or “completely unsatisfied” with either device ranged from 0 to only 3%.
Contending that the eReader wars are turning into a “two-horse race” between the Amazon Kindle and the iPad, the author of the report, Paul Carton, presented data on “types of content being consumed” only for those two devices, to the exclusion of all others.
Answers to this question showed that Kindle owners are more likely to read books on their device (93%) than iPad owners (76%). Conversely, though, iPad owners are almost five times more likely to reader newspapers and magazines and a whopping 15 times more likely to read blogs and newsfeeds.
“The rest of the market includes the Sony Reader (5%) and the Barnes and Noble Nook (4%),” wrote Carton, who is ChangeWave’s VP of Research.
The ChangeWave survey also looked at users’ planned eReader purchases over the next 90 days, a time frame that starts with the holiday shopping season.
Among respondents who do plan on buying a new eReader, 42% said they’ll be most likely to buy an iPad. Other responses were 33% for Kindle, 4% for Nook, 2% for “a smartphone with eBook capability,” 1% for Sony Reader, and 18% for “other/don’t know/NA.”
It’s worth noting however, that Amazon offers a Kindle eReading app for the iPad, in addition to Android and BlackBerry devices, as well as Mac and PC computers, which enables Kindle functionality and Amazon eBook access on devices other than the Kindle.
What About the NOOKColor?
However, while issued at the end of November, the report made no mention of the NOOKColor, a high-end eReader released by B&N during the middle of the same month.
Meanwhile, in releasing its quarterly results on Tuesday, B&N officials contended that orders for the NOOKColor “significantly exceeded the company’s expectations,” and that since going on sale on November 16, the eReader has turned into the single best-selling product at B&N.
B&N also acknowledged making heavy investments in other “digital initiatives,” including new titles for its eBook catalog, a children’s book offering dubbed NookKids, and Nook Newstand, a new platform for digital magazines and newspapers.
But B&N CEO William Lynch suggested that these investments are starting to pay off for the traditionally brick-and-mortar book seller with revenues from new markets.
“Since launching our eBookStore in the second half of last year, Barnes & Noble has quickly captured approximately 20% of the exploding eBook market. We have plans to grow our share well beyond 20%, and the early success of NOOKColor is encouraging,” Lynch said in a statement.