Kindle, Nook Gain In E-Reader Race
Shipments of e-readers led by Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook hit 5.1 million worldwide in the fourth quarter, up 90% from the prior quarter and 116% from a year ago. Both gained market share at the expense of rival devices offered by Sony, BenQ and Hanvon, according to new data from IMS Research.
Amazon remained the undisputed leader in the e-reader category, accounting for 59% of devices shipped -- followed by Barnes & Noble at 11%, Sony, 5% and BenQ and Hanvon, each with 4%. Amazon gained 14 percentage points in share during 2010 and Barnes & Noble 3 points. In contrast, Sony's share has shrunk from 19% to 5% in the face of growing competition.
The firm noted that the $250 color version of the Nook introduced last fall has been a key to fueling sales of the device, as well as Barnes & Noble beefing up in-store retail support for the Nook and expanding the selection of its eBookstore to 2 million titles.
A separate Digitimes report yesterday cited unnamed sources stating that 3 million color Nooks have hit stores in the past year. They also estimated the tablet-like Nook Color had sales of 600,000 to 700,000 per month in January and February.
Barnes & Noble said it plans to update the Nook with additional apps, email, an enhanced browser and Adobe's Flash. It will also highlight more content for kids. Overall, IMS Research expects e-reader shipments to increase slightly to 5.2 million units before picking up steam in the second half of 2011 as a result of lower prices and wider availability of features, such as touchscreens and color.
Although higher-priced, tablet sales have continued to outpace those of e-readers. In the fourth quarter, tablet sales more than doubled from the previous quarter to 9.4 million units, stemming from strong iPad holiday sales and significant sell-in by the Android-based Samsung Galaxy Tab. Nearly 15 million iPads were sold last year.
IMS predicts tablet growth of 242% to 58 million units overall in 2011. That total would account for nearly one-quarter (23%) of the portable PC market, up from 8% in 2010. Despite a flood of new devices from Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion and others, Apple is expected to maintain a 75% share of the tablet market in this year based on its first-mover advantage and other factors.