IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers with Some Surprising Results

IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers with Some Surprising Results

IDC has done some number crunching, and their ebook sales numbers are…interesting, to say the least. They say Amazon is #1, but surprisingly Pandigital has a very strong showing against B&N, coming in third for the year but second for the fourth quarter. That’s a huge shocker, though Pandigital did flood the market with several models over the course of 2010. I do wonder why IDC didn’t include Pandigital under media tablets, since even though they’re marketed as ebook readers they all run various flavors of Android.

Even more interesting, Sony’s numbers were up 80%, which sounds great…until you find out that put them in 5th place AND a jump of 80% is only 800,000 units. Ouch. If Sony were anyone else, this might be impressive, but Sony isn’t just another ebook manufacturer. They were the first company to enter the ebook reader market, and they had a solid head start over Amazon. So not only have they lost their first-mover advantage, but they’ve fallen so far that companies that weren’t even considering ebooks when Sony was first releasing Readers are now outselling them. It’s a sad place for a former market leader, that’s for sure.

It will be very interesting to see what the next year or so brings for both ebook and tablet numbers. What IDC doesn’t measure, at least right now, is the overlap of ebook software being run on tablets. That’s going to tip the scales more heavily towards Amazon and B&N, but might give a better picture of content AND device sales. Though I’m still wondering how IDC measures in such a way that Pandigital shot so high…anyone have any insight? Are Pandigital devices that popular, or are sales to discount chains like Kohls being counted as well?

Via Engadget

Nearly 18 Million Media Tablets Shipped in 2010 with Apple Capturing 83% Share; eReader Shipments Quadrupled to More Than 12 Million, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., March 10, 2011 – According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, 10.1 million media tablets were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2010 (4Q10) – more than double the 4.5 million shipped in the third quarter. Apple’s share came down from 93% in 3Q10 to 73% in 4Q10, but still reflected Apple’s strong leadership position. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab was the primary competitor in the holiday season, beating other players to market and capturing more than 17% share, while a number of smaller regional players also participated.

The Tracker showed that the eReader market also picked up significantly in the fourth quarter. Strong sales of Amazon’s Kindle, which was refreshed in August and priced more aggressively, as well as significant gains from competitors such as Pandigital, Barnes & Noble, Hanvon, and Sony among others, contributed to market growth.

In 4Q10, the eReader market more than doubled volume from the previous quarter, with more than 6 million units shipped for the quarter, bringing the full-year total to 12.8 million units shipped. eReader shipments were also up more than 325% from 2009 when roughly 3 million units shipped. The strong growth reflects a more competitive offering as well as widening interest in the category, including a boost from media tablet press and much lower pricing.

“Strong holiday sales of media tablets were in line with IDC projections and strong consumer interest in the category while device vendors scrambled to offer products competitive with Apple’s iPad and now iPad 2,” said Loren Loverde, vice president, Consumer Device Trackers. “Media Tablets are on pace to reach shipments of roughly 50 million units in 2011.”

According to IDC, media tablets are tablet form factor devices with color displays larger than 5 in. and smaller than 14 in. running lightweight operating systems (such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS) and can be based on either x86 or ARM processors. By contrast, tablet PCs run full PC operating systems and are based on x86 processors. Media tablets support multiple connectivity technologies and a broad range of applications, which differentiates them from single purpose–focused devices such as eReaders. Media tablet market evolution will be driven not only by product introductions from PC, consumer electronics, and mobile phone vendors, but also by expanded distribution channels (with mobile operators playing a key role) and commercial adoption by businesses.

According to IDC, the United States, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) regions accounted for 89% of all media tablet shipments in 4Q10. Although the United States remained the largest country market, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) grew almost twice as fast from 3Q10 to 4Q10 and Western Europe saw a slightly larger jump in shipments in 4Q10.

In 4Q10, retailers were the channel with the highest share of shipments, followed by direct and telco sales. A new channel for media tablets, the telco operators, accounted for nearly 14% of all shipments of media tablets in 4Q10 following just over 1% share in the third quarter.

Vendor Highlights: Media Tablets

Apple is building on its strong 2010 first-generation iPad launch with the iPad 2, which will ship this month, before most competitors come to market with first generation media tablets. Although more competing devices will be launched this year, IDC expects Apple to maintain a 70-80% share of the market.

Samsung started shipping its 7 in. Galaxy Tab media tablet in 4Q10. Although its shipments into the channel were fairly aggressive, a lack of competitive pricing and ongoing competition from Apple stifled consumer demand. Samsung is expected to follow with a 10.1 in. Galaxy Tab with Android 3.0 Honeycomb later this year, but the refresh will have a tough time maintaining share as more competitors enter the market.

The recently launched Motorola Xoom is a worthy competitor in function, although the relatively high price is expected to be a barrier to gaining significant share.

Other vendors and designs are expected to hit the market in earnest in the second half of 2011. Many of these products will be more competitive in function, like the Xoom, but we expect only those from large vendors with significant marketing and channel structure in addition to a few technologically and price competitive devices to capture significant share. One differentiation path that some vendors are likely to take is to focus on specific market segments, such as commercial. While benefitting from unique product positioning, they are likely to address a smaller overall market and will need to be competitive with devices from Apple and others.
Vendor Highlights: eReaders

Amazon continued to lead the eReader market holding just over 48% share in 4Q10 and 2010 overall. Amazon’s share recovered in 4Q10 with shipments of the refreshed Kindle (3) after dipping under 40% in 3Q10.

Barnes and Noble began shipping the NOOKcolor color LCD-based ereader in 4Q10 to support children’s books, periodicals, and other graphically rich content. The NOOKcolor is more expensive than epaper-based ereaders and offers a lower priced, less feature-rich alternative to a full-fledged media tablet.

Pandigital edged out Barnes and Noble for the number 2 spot in 4Q10, although the latter came in slightly ahead on an annual basis.

Hanvon of China came in as the number 4 eReader vendor with a sequential gain in volume. Half of Hanvon shipments were in China, where it leads the market, but where eReader growth remained modest. International shipments faced greater competition, pushing share down overall.

Worldwide Sony Reader shipments grew 80.7% during 4Q10 and exceeded 800,000 units for 2010.

The Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker includes quarterly shipment and forecast analysis for over 30 countries including market size and vendor share along with detailed market segmentation and product attributes such as operating system, connectivity, and storage capacity among others.

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About the Author

Zek has been a gadget fiend for a long time, going back to their first PDA (a Palm M100). They quickly went from researching what PDA to buy to following tech news closely and keeping up with the latest and greatest stuff. They love writing about ebooks because they combine their two favorite activities; reading anything and everything, and talking about fun new tech toys. What could be better?

3 Comments on "IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers with Some Surprising Results"

  1. IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers With Some Surprising Results #GearDiary

  2. IDC used shipment figures not sales data for their report. I’m a bit dubious – where is the NookColor in the 4th Quarter in the B&N figures, those figures really seem low.

    As for Pandigital…this is a reflection of their incredible ability to get themselves stocked just about everywhere. During the holiday season they got themselves into the following retailers by my count, whether instore or online:
    Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, Walgreens, JC Penney, QVC, BB&B, Kohl’s, KMart, BJ’s,, Radio Shack, HH Gregg, Dillards, Office Depot, Ultimate Electronics, Office Max, Toys R Us(!)…whew! No doubt I missed a couple. You need a lot of stock to supply all these channels. The big winner here is B&N since their ebookstore comes with all units sold in the USA. (I believe the units in Canada comes with Kobo).

    What surprises me is the poor showing by Amazon, perhaps another reason to be dubious about these figures. I’ve seen estimates that Amazon owned 63.4% market share in ereaders in 2009 so this is quite a drop.

  3. IDC Reports eBook Sales Numbers With Some Surprising Results

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