Sunday, June 12, 2011

Just a comment on devices and Market Share

There is a bit of a 'reality distortion field' when it comes to devices that read ebooks.

The breakdown by market share (approximate):
Amazon: 50%
B&N: 26%
Sony: 8%
Apple: 8%

Everyone else is fighting over the last 8%. In other words, Kobo (Borders), Google, and others are working for a fraction of the pie that sums up to the 3rd place tie. I'm going to blog less about those participants (unless I see fast growth).

Why does this matter? New devices spike market share as those that 'waited on the sideline' buy and load up with ebooks. I'm going to avoid the discussion about readers stocking up (as I dusted off a box of pbooks form the garage to pull a few into the TBR pile), but rather talk about the impact.

While Amazon has been losing market share, they are still the top dog. If you're selling ebooks, you want Amazon to launch new devices. If Amazon doesn't launch a new device, you really want Barnes and Noble to launch a new device. I expect the new Nook simple will increase the B&N market share; I'm not sure if it will be at the expense of Amazon or the 'other' category.

The last note is Apple. Note how low their market share is despite the success of their devices. I suspect it is due to the demographic Apple sells to; their customers can afford a Kindle or Nook as the dedicated e-reader and utilize their iOS device as the 'occasional e-reader.'

Lately, I'm seeing a few trends:
1. Adult 'kids' buying their elder parents e-readers for large type access. I'm seeing about a "70% success rate." What I mean is that about 30% of those gifted an e-reader... Don't pick up their reading. :( It seems the Nook color is *not* the gift for this crowd. (Note; The Nook color is *hot* among other demographics... I think it is weight for the 70+ crowd.)
2. Nook color buying for kid books.
3. IPad for kid books.
4. Occasional (smartphone) ebook readers are buying dedicated readers. A quick survey of friends shows that they are happier with the Kindle app on the cell phone and that is driving their e-reader purchase.

Personally, I think the first 'major brand' $99 e-reader (that isn't junk) will help spike the market. But only if the 'major brand' is Amazon, B&N, Sony, or Apple; anyone else would be lacking 'cheerleaders' to help spike ebook sales and I'm not sure Sony's cheerleaders would be aggressive enough. :( (I want competition in ereaders; competition improves the breed.) :)

I rather hope for a new set of Amazon ereaders for back to school. Hopefully in multiple formats: cell phone, tablets, 'Kindle simple', and I hope for one 'neat surprise.'

I was pleasantly surprised by last month's AAP pbook sales. However, judging by comments Amazon made earlier... I'm suspecting April will favor ebooks. As I noted before, usually the later the AAP releases data, the worse the story for pbooks. We're past the tipping point. The question is how fast we tip.

Got Popcorn?

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