A recent report from the International Data Corporation has provided an analysis of the Tablet PC and eReader markets for the first quarter of 2011. Nooks, Kindles, iPads, and their respective markets in general are doing quite well, with eReader growth at 105% over the past year and tablets not doing too bad either. Although demand did not grow quite as much as expected, for a variety of reasons, things are improving.
Right now the Barnes & Noble Nook product line is on top in terms of worldwide sales for the first time, beating out the Kindle a bit. IDC attributes this in part to the introduction of the popular Nook Color, for which this was the first full quarter of sales. While many have leaped at the chance to interpret this as an indication that the Nook Color is single-handedly outselling the Kindle, no indication of such is made in the article. Instead, it seems likely that the Barnes & Noble Nook line’s incorporation of both a dedicated eReader and a budget Tablet PC has proven a smart move, especially with their managing to classify their tablet as a primarily reading focused device. This does not necessarily mean that the Kindle is doing poorly in any way, but it does indicate fairly well that the expansion of the Kindle line to incorporate a variety of Tablets will come at a great time for Amazon. The eReader market is expected to continue to expand, and IDC has increased their number of expected unit sales for the year. Current forecasts call for 16.2 eReaders shipped worldwide in 2011.
On the tablet front, the iPad and newly released iPad 2 are continuing to dominate the market. Though sales fell short of expectations in the post-holiday season, due to both current economic conditions and certain supply chain issues, there was still noticeable expansion and the rest of the year is looking strong. Worst off have been the iPad’s competitors who choose to concentrate on distribution through telecommunication venues. Due perhaps to customer reluctance to get locked into a monthly fee with their purchases, the demand in these areas is growing comparatively slowly.
Amazon’s anticipated third quarter tablet release is definitely looking like it has a chance at making a major impact on the Tablet PC space. Due to firmly established distribution channels and an existing support structure, the device or devices can expect to be better received than most. Should Amazon meet their expected sales numbers, as estimated from reports of supply orders made in anticipation of the upcoming release, they could jump to a 5% share of the Tablet market within months of release.
Given the success of the Nook line in the eReader market in a period when they were offering a fairly outdated eReader and an underpowered Tablet, it can be assumed that the combination of the current generation Kindle and the upcoming high-powered Kindle Tablet will provide Amazon with just the versatility needed to get firmly in place as a hardware provider in the months ahead.