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Old 02-07-2012, 04:06 PM   #1
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E-reader marketshare numbers

I'm curious if people have seen any hard numbers of e-reader marketshare? I don't see a lot of hard numbers (Amazon has refused to discuss specific sales numbers for the Kindle since day 1, and others have tended to follow suit from what I can tell), and what I do see is from biased sources (press releases, off-hand remarks from stakeholders, etc.). It would be particularly interesting to see sales figures and/or marketshare on a country by country basis, as from that you can start to see trends and do some analysis of how those trends came to be. I'll start it off with the only hard figures I've seen recently (as in, from an independent market research firm, not just a biased press release):

Canadian e-reader marketshare as of August 2011:

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/p...e.aspx?id=5399

Kobo 36% (up from 29% in January 2011)
Kindle 25% (no change from January 2011)
Sony 23% (down from 30% in January 2011)
Other 16% ?

The stats indicate a significant overall increase in e-reader ownership, as the total number of people reporting owning e-readers went up markedly between January and August of last year.

Sony's share drop appears to suggest extremely stagnant sales (going from the market leader to third place in only 7 months).

While the Kindle's percentage stayed the same, it was a percentage of an enlarged market suggesting sales are healthy for them.

Kobo's numbers are mind-blowingly good, showing a huge marketshare gain during a period of significant expansion of e-reader ownership in Canada. This suggests that Kobo is earning the lion's share of new e-reader device sales in Canada at the moment. (This fits anecdotally with what I'm seeing around town, I live in Victoria BC.)

I must admit, this market research is a guilty pleasure for me. Bring on the market research for other markets!
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:25 PM   #2
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Now that Amazon has started shipping the Kindle Touch wifi to Canada it will be interesting to see if Kobo can maintain their market share. Kobo had a huge advantage in Canada last year since none of the new Kindle models (Touch, Fire) introduced in the fall were meant to be sold outside the US. Many of the Kindle features such as ebook lending, library books, special offers, Amazon Prime, etc. do not work in Canada, which evens the playing field here for Kobo.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:37 PM   #3
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The most recent numbers for the US marketplace with some credibility come from the NYT piece on B&N that quotes Amazon share at 60%-plus. With B&N itself claiming 27% and Kobo claiming 8%, that leaves maybe 5% for iBooks and the Adept crowd.
Until better numbers come out, those will have to serve.
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Old 02-07-2012, 07:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Synamon View Post
Now that Amazon has started shipping the Kindle Touch wifi to Canada it will be interesting to see if Kobo can maintain their market share. Kobo had a huge advantage in Canada last year since none of the new Kindle models (Touch, Fire) introduced in the fall were meant to be sold outside the US. Many of the Kindle features such as ebook lending, library books, special offers, Amazon Prime, etc. do not work in Canada, which evens the playing field here for Kobo.
I think the real strength for Kobo is the partnership with Chapters/Coles/Indigo. The market dominance of that chain in book retail in Canada is hard to overstate. I think the Kindle Touch, whatever its merits, won't move the numbers much I predict.

I think the takeaway from this is that partnering with a dominant retail player (if a given market has a dominant book retailer) pays dividends. Would Kobo be the market leader in Canada without Chapters/Indigo having them in every store? Doubtful. Would the Nook, whatever its merits, be a strong second player to the Kindle in the U.S. if it was sold only in electronic stores? I doubt it.

That's Kobo's strategy going forward, and probably exactly for that reason: they saw what a huge impact it made in Canada. It will be interesting to see if they can replicate that success in the UK with WH Smith, in the Netherlands (where they have partnered with what they claim is the book retail market leader, though it's actually an alliance of small independents), and France.

I think the Kindle Fire could be a disruptive force in the Canadian market, but that might be more for the tablet market than the e-reader market. The Fire would likely only be a disruptive force in the Canadian market if, as you say, they actually roll out all the Amazon Prime services (streaming video, etc.) here, otherwise Canadians will feel jilted (well, moreso than they already feel with all the other things Amazon can't and/or won't offer to Canadian customers ).

I think the really knowledgeable ebook purchasers, the ones aware of a site like this, probably are considering the respective strengths of different e-ink readers in making their decision(s) on which to buy. I think for the mass market, they're buying based on familiarity (the Kindle brand has an edge there), convenience (the Kobo has an edge in this regard in Canada due to the biggest book retail network selling them in store), and the strength of the ecosystem (that's probably a wash overall).
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Old 02-07-2012, 09:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
The most recent numbers for the US marketplace with some credibility come from the NYT piece on B&N that quotes Amazon share at 60%-plus. With B&N itself claiming 27% and Kobo claiming 8%, that leaves maybe 5% for iBooks and the Adept crowd.
Until better numbers come out, those will have to serve.
The last figure I remember from Apple was 180,000,000 iBooks downloaded (not purchased) during the first 9 months of 2011. They may have ended the year with 240 million, if rate continued. If Apple has less than 5% that would mean over 6 billion ebooks downloaded last year. Possible, I suppose. Or more likely Apple has a greater than 5% share and when you add in Sony, Google, BoB, Diesel, Smashwords and the others it's a higher probability. That throws off the other figures.

The OP asked about ereaders so the above doesn't answer or help him any.
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:02 PM   #6
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The last figure I remember from Apple was 180,000,000 iBooks downloaded (not purchased) during the first 9 months of 2011. They may have ended the year with 240 million, if rate continued. If Apple has less than 5% that would mean over 6 billion ebooks downloaded last year. Possible, I suppose. Or more likely Apple has a greater than 5% share and when you add in Sony, Google, BoB, Diesel, Smashwords and the others it's a higher probability. That throws off the other figures.

The OP asked about ereaders so the above doesn't answer or help him any.
As an iPad and iPhone owner, I would question whether Apple has even 5% of the paid e-book market. When iBooks came out, I downloaded the free Alice in Wonderland (on my phone and iPad), and when iBooks 2 came out, I downloaded the free textbook. But I haven't actually bought any books from Apple, and I suspect a lot of people haven't.
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Old 02-07-2012, 10:24 PM   #7
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Kobo is certainly a significant player ... in Canada ... and believably the market leader. Kindle is available at somewhat inflated prices at one chain -- The Source -- but most sales are from amazon.com. Kobo, on the other hand, is widely available, including at Walmart. Only Kobo, not Kindle, makes public library books available (in Canada). Nor has Kindle Fire been sold in Canada whereas the Kobo Vox -- although modest numbers -- has the ereader tablet space to itself.

Kobo is being sold in a number of markets outside of Canada and the US and continues to gain followers, currently claiming about 7 million active customers. It's an evolving market ... who knows where things will stand in six more months?*


*Perhaps even Pottermore will have launched by then!
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
The most recent numbers for the US marketplace with some credibility come from the NYT piece on B&N that quotes Amazon share at 60%-plus. With B&N itself claiming 27% and Kobo claiming 8%, that leaves maybe 5% for iBooks and the Adept crowd.
Until better numbers come out, those will have to serve.
Those numbers may exclude iBooks, if they're looking at devices marketed as e-readers raher thn as tablets. If so, those numbers sound about right.
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Old 02-08-2012, 02:18 AM   #9
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According to the hosts on The Shopping Network here in Canada for yesterday's Kobo sale, Kobo's claiming 7 million devices sold (presumably worldwide).
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Old 02-08-2012, 01:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fbone View Post
The last figure I remember from Apple was 180,000,000 iBooks downloaded (not purchased) during the first 9 months of 2011. They may have ended the year with 240 million, if rate continued. If Apple has less than 5% that would mean over 6 billion ebooks downloaded last year. Possible, I suppose. Or more likely Apple has a greater than 5% share and when you add in Sony, Google, BoB, Diesel, Smashwords and the others it's a higher probability. That throws off the other figures.

The OP asked about ereaders so the above doesn't answer or help him any.
One of the reasons I focused on e-reader sales is that it's a potentially knowable number (well, knowable within a regional margin of error). You can do what Ipsos Reid did in Canada, poll people and ask them what devices they have. If you ask most people how many e-books they've purchased, they would have no idea, but they can probably tell you if they have a Kobo, a Kindle, or a Nook. A clear picture of the e-book market would be really tough without the e-book sellers offering up hard numbers, and none of the majors seem excited about doing that.

That said, any hard numbers of e-books sold are interesting too, and may help us make educated guesses on how well each ecosystem is doing at garnering fans.
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Old 02-08-2012, 04:44 PM   #11
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If Apple has less than 5% that would mean over 6 billion ebooks downloaded last year.
Not necessarily a problem.
Remember that Apple is quoting downloaded files--including freebies and re-downloads--and the NYT is quoting commercial ebook *sales*.
With Apple running some 30-40 million Ipads and 100 million-plus iPhones, 240 million downloads is not out of line. Or meaningful.
Works out to two freebies per device, after all.

One reason Apple needs to be taken seriously in ebooks, even if their current share is miniscule, is precisely the size of their gadget installed base. If their user base only buys an ibook or two a year, that's still going to be a decent business.
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Old 02-08-2012, 05:39 PM   #12
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As an iPad and iPhone owner, I would question whether Apple has even 5% of the paid e-book market. When iBooks came out, I downloaded the free Alice in Wonderland (on my phone and iPad), and when iBooks 2 came out, I downloaded the free textbook. But I haven't actually bought any books from Apple, and I suspect a lot of people haven't.
Having devices that aren't dedicated e-readers definitely confuses the issue. Kobo is considered the market leader in Canada because it has more dedicated e-readers sold than Amazon or Sony, but how does the picture change when you consider people using the Kindle or Kobo apps on other devices, or buying books via iBooks and/or Google Books? There's no perfect way of knowing, but we can get a pretty good idea from looking at sales of e-readers and/or e-books.

It looks like Amazon rules the U.S., Kobo is in the lead in Canada, and I'm guessing Sony is #1 in Japan (though Rakuten is likely looking to change that). Interesting how in every country where there's a "home team" advantage that the locally-based company is in the lead.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:50 PM   #13
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Some new numbers for Canada (from Ipsos Reid, are any other market research firms doing this kind of work in other countries?!):

http://www.ipsos-na.com/news-polls/p...e.aspx?id=5596

Quote:
"The study also reveals that as eReaders grow in popularity, the brand landscape is showing a runaway brand winner: the Kobo. Twelve months earlier, the Sony eReader, the Kobo, and Amazon’s Kindle were virtually tied for market penetration at 28%, 27% and 25% respectively. The January 2012 wave of the Mobil-ology Study shows the Kobo far out in front with 46% penetration and the Kindle slipping one point to 24%. The big shift comes at the expense of Sony’s eReader, which saw market penetration drop from a category leading penetration in January 2011 to a distant third at 18% in January 2012.

Looking at the brands of eReaders under consideration by those in the market, it appears that more losses are in store for Sony as consideration of this brand has dropped by 31% over the past 12 months. Intention to buy a Sony eReader fell from a high of 45% last year to 31% in January 2011, with Kobo picking up much of the difference. “What is more interesting is that with 53% of respondents intending to buy a Kindle, the Amazon product is more likely than Kobo to be a part of the consideration set of prospective buyers than the Kobo, now at 42%,” adds Barbour. “Though intentions do not necessarily translate into sales, the January 2012 wave of Mobil-ology shows that a battle of the brands may be in the works if Amazon is able to improve conversion.”"
I think the second paragraph reflects that, to people who haven't really investigated e-readers yet, that Kindle is still a very strong brand name and that many of the uninitiated would say (when asked) they want a Kindle as they may not even be aware of any of the other brands. However, Kindle buying intention has been (and remains) the highest in Canada despite them actually dropping in marketshare, so something is getting in the way of Amazon converting that intention into purchases.

I think the first paragraph explains that problem for Amazon is: the pushback from book retailing. It's been successful in the U.S., with B&N eclipsing all of Amazon's competitors to take the uncontested second-place spot. It's happened in Canada, with Kobo rocketing into first place (now nearly double Amazon's marketshare). Amazon must know this, and this news seems to prove it:

http://news.techworld.com/personal-t...in-uk/?olo=rss

In short, Waterstones in the UK (the #2 book retailer after the Kobo-allied WHSmith) was in talks to make the UK the first country outside the U.S. to have the Nook for sale, but that the deal fell through for financial reasons. Instead, Waterstones will be selling Kindles in their stores. Though the deal is non-exclusive and, interestingly, they will also be selling "other formats" through their website.

Chapters/Indigo in Canada having succeeded in rocketing Kobo from nowheresville to an absolutely dominant position in the market (I can think of no other mature e-reader market is the Kindle halfway back of the market leader) must have everyone in the industry paying attention, as there's now seems to be a race to partner with major retailers. I imagine this means that a lot of people want to check out the device in person before making a purchase.

In a separate (and unrelated) press release, Michael Serbinis of Kobo confirmed they saw triple-digit growth in Canada in 2011, and have budgeted for triple-digit growth in Canada again for 2012. That same article suggested they've enjoyed about 50% of new e-reader sales in France since their alliance with FNAC last year, that they're about to launch an aggressive (Kobo-branded) push into Japan on the backs of Rakuten, and that they have dozens of other countries in mind for imminent expansion. Japan's the key one though, with the e-reader market not yet mature there (and, therefore, potentially open to new entrants), the Kindle not having launched there yet, and Rakuten (the eBay of Japan, effectively) in a great position to gain share in their home market.

Interesting times for the big four (Sony being the fourth).

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Old 05-22-2012, 01:50 AM   #14
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Interesting numbers, but I have a hard time seeing how the intent of Canadians to buy a Kindle will translate to purchases.

Kobo has the advantage of a huge retail presence in the largest book retailer and Kindle has the disadvantage of not supporting ePub. ePub support is a huge issue since it means no library lending and because you cannot buy books from anyone outside of Amazon. The former will be more important to less affluent ereader buyers, and the latter is important because there are a number of books that Amazon doesn't have the rights to sell in Canada.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:43 AM   #15
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Amazon has had library lending (via Overdrive) since September of last year. Is it not available for Canadian libraries?

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