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The iPad takes on the Kindle

Is the iPad about to dethrone the Kindle as the #1 e-reader? That’s starting to look increasingly likely, according to the results of a recent survey by research company ChangeWave.

When Apple’s iPad first came out, Amazon suggested that the “readability” of its Kindle – and the substantial price differential – would allow the two devices to peacefully co-exist; the iPad would be used for e-mail, web surfing, games, and other media, and the Kindle would remain the top choice for books. Now, it appears that the iPad is rapidly moving in on the Kindle’s core market.

The Kindle (47% - down 15 points) is hanging on to a rapidly diminishing lead over the iPad (32% - up 16 points) among current e-reader owners. However, the iPad’s share of the overall market has doubled since ChangeWave last surveyed owners back in August. That trend is set to continue, with the iPad (42%) expected to outsell the Kindle (33%) in the expanding e-reader market this holiday season.

The iPad’s surge in e-reader popularity is being led by newspapers and magazines. Prior to launch, Apple made great efforts to forge partnerships with publishers of periodicals and that strategy appears to have paid off. iPad owners are nearly five times more likely to read newspapers and magazines than their Kindle counterparts.

And more publishers are battling to jump on the iPad train. News Corp. and British entrepreneur Richard Branson have both recently announced plans for iPad-only publications early next year. Once iPad owners enjoy newspapers and magazines – and blogs and news feeds – in full color on their 10-inch screens, it’s an easy transition to begin downloading and reading full-blown e-books.

The iPad is also benefitting from Apple’s traditional high customer satisfaction ratings. Three-in-four (75%) of iPad owners say they are very satisfied with their e-reader device compared to 54% for Kindle owners.

Where does this leave the rest of the e-reader market? Far behind, according to ChangeWave. Sony’s Reader has a 5% share of the market, while Barnes & Noble’s Nook has just 4%. As the above chart shows, although demand for the Nook is expected to improve, it will remain way behind the two market leaders.

Not shown on the chart is the impact of the many other tablet devices that are just starting to hit the stores. But like the iPod and iPhone before it, the iPad seems assured of a dominant market position for quite some time to come.

Are you planning to buy an e-reader this holiday season? If so, which device will you choose? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!

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