A recently released ChangeWave survey tracking consumer data in the eReading marketplace came up with some interesting results for Kindle enthusiasts this time around. While there was a lot of data, mostly demonstrating the justifiably increasing popularity of the iPad, there are a few specific pieces that are particularly interesting for those of us interested in the future of the dedicated eReader market.
Defining the eReader:
In looking at this topic, one of the things that it seems important to keep in mind, at least to me, is that the Kindle is essentially an eBook-specific reading device. Yes, it is nice to have the option to grab your newspaper or news feed on it, and I do these myself, but that’s not where the device shines, nor where it is really meant to stand out. If, for the sake of these surveys, we’re going to consider everybody who looks at a blog, a magazine, or a newspaper to have been using their device as an eReader, then that includes a lot of things that are peripheral to everything besides the iPad. Before anybody jumps down my throat on this one, I’m not claiming that there are no people who want an eReader to read their magazines on or that that’s an unimportant market, merely one that only one of the devices was ever really intended to take into account in the first place. When it comes to specifically eBooks, the current user base numbers reflect a different balance.
Future eReader Demand:
This is perhaps the most immediately relevant bit of information to look at, for a lot of people. While we don’t have much to go on in terms of rationale behind these purchase decisions, it is very nice to see dedicated eReaders as a whole, and the Kindle in particular, holding a strong position here. Even with the iPad having the more diverse functionality, showing 42% for the iPad against 38% for dedicated eReaders(Kindle, Nook, and Sony) with as many as 18% of respondents undecided tells me the numbers are staying pretty close.
Current eReader Ownership:
This was the most interesting of the data sets to me, when it comes right down to it. In a survey of over 2800 respondents, iPad ownership doubled in just four months, while Kindle ownership dropped by 15%. This doesn’t mean that 15% of Kindle owners dropped their eReaders off at the dump or switched to the iPad, obviously, simply that a more significant number of people owned iPads or both iPad and Kindle devices. Not having a copy of the report on my desk at the moment, I can’t say anything certain about methods, but it would seem likely that you hit your participant numbers faster now that the iPad has really taken off, so Kindle numbers will appear to fall as a result.
Does all this mean that the Kindle is on its way out? Nah. The market is growing and tablet PCs are going to take their share. If all you want to do is read magazines and surf the web anyway, it certainly makes more sense to have one of those right now than it does an eReader. For those of us who want to sit for hours with a good book in front of us, preferences are still pretty clearly elsewhere.