iPad gains on Kindle in e-reader race, but does it matter?

A survey of 2,800 e-reader users doesn't take into account how many iPad book readers are using the Kindle iPad app

Apple's iPad vs Amazon's Kindle DX

Apple's iPad vs Amazon's Kindle DX

The race to become the most popular e-reading in the United States is down to Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle, according to a recent survey of 2,800 e-reader users by ChangeWave Research. ChangeWave found that Kindle's market share dropped in November by 15 percentage points to 47 per cent of the market compared with the results from a survey ChangeWave conducted in August. Apple's iPad, meanwhile, has jumped by 16 points to take up 32 per cent of the market.

The Kindle and iPad were followed by Sony's Reader at five per cent and Barnes & Noble's Nook with four per cent. It's not clear which devices make up the missing 12 per cent of the US market.

ChangeWave's results are interesting and show that the iPad is a very popular gadget, but the findings aren't all they're cracked up to be. Let's take a look.

E-reader Satisfaction

Readers love their Kindle device, according to ChangeWave, but they love their iPad even more. ChangeWave found that 75 per cent of those surveyed said they were very satisfied with their iPad as an e-reader compared with 54 per cent of Kindle device users. Interestingly, the Kindle performed better with the wishy-washy crowd, with 38 per cent of respondents saying they were somewhat satisfied with the Kindle compared with 21 per cent with the iPad.

Device Content Wars

On the iPad you can read books, newspapers and magazines in specially designed third-party apps such as Conde Nast's GQ magazine app or Virgin's recently launched iPad magazine Project . You can also read similar content on the Kindle, but in grayscale and with limited interactivity. So it's no surprise that when it comes to content, the iPad is king, with 76 per cent reading books on the iPad, 51 per cent reading newspapers on the device, 36 per cent reading magazines and 45 per cent reading blogs and newsfeeds.

Unsurprisingly, Kindle owners use the device mostly to read books, a full 93 per cent of them. Just 11 per cent read newspapers on the device, eight per cent read magazines offered on the Kindle and only three per cent read blogs or RSS feeds on the Kindle.

Not the whole story

ChangeWave's findings show there's no question the iPad is a very popular device for reading. As more companies experiment with producing content for the device -- such as the aforementioned Project magazine or News Corp's upcoming daily newspaper for the iPad -- reading on the iPad is set to grow even more.

But one thing ChangeWave neglected to look into, or at least mention, is which apps people are using to read on the iPad. I have to wonder how many of the 76 per cent of iPad book readers are using the Kindle iPad application instead of Apple's iBooks app. Unlike iBooks, Kindle isn't just a device but a platform. You can read Kindle books on any number of devices including personal computers, as well as Android, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and BlackBerry devices. Apple's iBooks, on the other hand, is only available on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

The iPad as a device may soon be more popular for reading than the Kindle device, but does that really matter to Amazon? Isn't the Kindle just a way to get more people reading books? As long as they're buying their e-books from Amazon and not iBooks, it doesn't really matter to Amazon which device they're using.

Amazingly, however, the Kindle is still going strong despite the iPad's popularity. Amazon routinely says the Kindle is its best-selling device, and ChangeWave found that 33 per cent of people looking for a new e-reader in the next 90 days plan on buying the Kindle, while 42 per cent plan on going with the iPad. But will the new iPad owners be reading on a Kindle or iBooks app? That's the real question.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Appleconsumer electronicsapple ipadkindletabletsChangeWave ResearchHandhelds / PDAssony

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?