Kindle, iPad can coexist

After a really long time we have people waking up to the fact that Kindle, iPad can coexist.

Mr. Bezos’ ‘giving you figures without really giving you figures’ announcement seems to have been enough to get people to realize that the iPad doing well doesn’t mean the Kindle automatically has to do poorly.

James McQuivey thinks Kindle, iPad can coexist

Amazon’s announcement that Kindle sales are up despite the iPad and that Kindle ebook sales are beating hardcover sales at Amazon.com has convinced Mr. McQuivey that the Kindle isn’t going to die by 2011 or by 2012 or anytime soon.

In fact, he commits the heresy of thinking eReaders will sell more than the iPad next year (though he thinks Tablets will overtake eReaders in 2012) -

We’re so confident of the long ramp Amazon still has ahead of it that our latest eReader forecast shows that for at least the next year, eReaders of all flavors will outnumber iPads in the US.

we enter 2012, tablet PCs like the iPad will surpass eReaders. At that point, a healthy 15.5 million adults in the US will own an eReader.

More on the 2012 figures later.

Kindle is built for readers

It’s such a relief to see analysts and the main stream media FINALLY understand the Kindle is doing just fine because of dedicated readers -

… business seems to be going just fine for Amazon. 

Amazon has only barely begun to penetrate the one-fifth of online adults that read more than two books a month. These people love books enough to want a device optimized to provide the ideal digital reading experience, including finding, buying, carrying, and reading books.

That device is the Kindle.

Couldn’t agree more. People who read a lot will tend to prefer dedicated reading devices for reading.

All the ‘iPad will kill the Kindle’ arguments are simply opinions of people who don’t read that much or who are LCD compatible. Furthermore, they are never supported by facts of any sort – It’s usually their favorite telepathic Martian beaming down a vision of the future that is devoid of the Kindle and other dedicated reading devices.

Users don’t have to limit themselves to one device

It’s fun to pretend we live in an imaginary world where people have to choose just one device – They don’t. Lots of people own Kindle, iPad (or iPhone), and a PC and read across all three devices. Lots of people own multiple eReaders (‘reading doesn’t deserve a dedicated device’ people are probably shuddering at the thought). 

We don’t have to choose between an oven, a microwave, and a cooking range – we can have all three. Yet people are pretending that buying a smartphone or a tablet means users can no longer own a dedicated reading device. People have a lot of devices scattered around their houses – TVs, radios, music players, music systems, computers, phones, cameras, eReaders, video game consoles.

There is no ‘Only one device in a house’ rule. There isn’t even an ‘Only one device per person rule’.

People are beginning to realize the potential of the Kindle Store + Kindle Apps

Mr. McQuivey thinks Amazon intends to be the bookseller that captures customers (readers) for the long run – He’s absolutely right.

Amazon really are treating eBooks and eReaders as two separate businesses and they are focusing more on eBooks. The Kindle eco-system, the Kindle Store, and the various Kindle Apps are all built with the aim of taking over all of reading.

The people happily predicting the death of the Kindle are oblivious to the fact that not only is the Kindle not dying the Kindle store is actually taking over non-dedicated eReaders. The money eReader haters and anti-reading people spend on their ‘it does more than just read’ devices is being funnelled back into the development of dedicated reading devices. How deliciously amusing.

James McQuivey isn’t the only person who’s realized Kindle, iPad can coexist

Paul Verna at eMarketer.com points out that Kindle vs iPad was probably an imaginary battle to the death -

The Amazon figures also suggest that predictions of a head-to-head battle between the Kindle and the Apple iPad may have been overstated.

Jefferies & Company managing director Youssef Squali suggested as much when he said Amazon’s announcement was “clearly an indication that the iPad is complementary to the Kindle, not a replacement.”

Two people (an analyst and a marketer) might not seem like much – However, just a few days ago nearly everyone in the main stream media thought the Kindle was already dead. It doesn’t take much to change public opinion, especially opinion based on misconceptions, and these two people are a sign that things might be changing.

Why were people thinking Kindle, iPad couldn’t both survive?

The first mistake people had been making was assuming that a $499 device that specializes in not being specialized was in direct competition with a $189 device custom-built for reading.

The second mistake people had been making was thinking that everyone would want a device that treats reading as a side-pursuit. They found it hard to believe that people really do want to read on a dedicated reading device.

That’s changing now that James McQuivey and several other journalists and analysts are beginning to realize there is no direct contest. It’s a relief we’ve gotten so far. At the same time it’s interesting that people are still thinking small when it comes to the future of eReaders.

Analysts are still caught up in the ‘eReaders are a limited market’ mentality

Here’s Mr. McQuivey on future prospects for the Kindle and for eReaders -

By 2015, we see the eReader market starting to cap at just under 30 million US adults. That’s nearly all the people who read 2+ books a month.

Well, by 2015 we’ll actually see eReaders begin to replace paper, take over in offices and schools, and increase the number of people who read. We’ll see 50 to 100 million eReaders in the market just in the US and probably another 50 to 100 million eReaders outside the US.

It’s easy to look back at 5 million eReaders sold by the end of 2009 and think there’s no way eReaders grow 20 times in the next 6 years and hit 100 million units. However, no one knows what’s going to happen.

100 million eReaders by 2015 isn’t just possible it’s likely

There are a few major mistakes people make when they either predict the death of Kindle and eReaders or predict that it’s a market with some imaginary cap (let’s say 30 million eReaders total) -

  1. They assume eReaders will stop evolving. We are a long way away from the $399 Kindle 1 of 2.5 years ago. Tablets may evolve and get dual-mode screens – However, eReaders will evolve too. 
  2. They assume the market for dedicated eReaders is people who are serious readers. The market is actually replacing paper – both for reading and writing. The market includes work, college, school, notebooks, part of printing, reading, newspapers, documents, and a lot more.
  3. They discount the distraction and focus factors. Consider a company buying devices for its employees or a school buying devices for their students – Would they rather get a device specialized for wasting time (consuming, surfing, games, video, TV) or a device specialized for productive use of time?
  4. They assume that compromising the reading experience is OK. For most people it’s not.
  5. They leave out all the people who are LCD incompatible. Just because a lot of tech journalists are very comfortable reading on LCDs doesn’t mean the entire world is. For a multitude of reasons (weak eyesight, being LCD incompatible, not wanting to lose sleep at night, not wanting the extra eye-strain, treating their eyes better) people want a device that’s easier on their eyes.

eReaders are a much better option for replacing paper than Tablets. This is especially true in cases where you want to primarily replace paper for what it does now. There are lots of times when you don’t want your critical business document or your school exam to have the capacity to transform into a TV or a handheld gaming device.

My money’s on eReaders hitting 100 million units in circulation before 2015 and doing it before any Tablet (or all Tablets) do. Kindle, iPad will coexist and Kindle and eReaders will outsell the iPad.

4 Responses

  1. For the past 10 years or so … I haven’t read. So when the kindle app came out for the iphone I bought it and started using it. I enjoyed it and started reading again. Read about 5 books over a couple months on the iphone. Bought my wife the Kindle for christmas and I bought an Ipad when it came out and said I didn’t need a kindle. I read a few more books on the ipad and it’s very easy to use, with the right case it’s nice to lay in bed and just swipe to go to next page. Well when the the kindle went on sale (the refurb units) I decided to go ahead and get one. For me there is a big difference, especially after reading on all three devices. I read faster and longer (without getting tired like i did when reading on ipad/iphone, i’m guessing it’s the backlight). Of the three devices to read on I’d have to put the kindle way ahead of the other two, then believe it or not I’d put the iphone ahead of the ipad.

    • mp, my order is the exact same – kindle (for eink), iphone (for portability), and ipad. The iPad isn’t really a better option than the Kindle or iPhone. Once the initial euphoria is gone more people will start choosing other options.

  2. The only reason I wanted an iPad was for comics. I got an iPhone, and while not perfect, it has color and digital comics so I don’t clutter up my living space with more physical comics.

    I may reconsider an iPad once the price goes down a little, but for now, I’m happy with my Kindle, and my iPhone.

    And I just wanted to say thank you for all these thought out posts. I don’t comment that often, but I do read your posts, or if it’s a super busy day, at least scan the comments when they come into my in box, and I appreciate them immensely.

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