iPad Makes Big Strides as E-reader

Apple's iPad, while far more than an e-reader, is having a clear impact on the e-reader market, including the kind of content people are reading on it.

For example, three times as many iPad owners say they read newspapers and magazines on the tablets as compared to owners of other e-reader devices, such as the Amazon.com Kindle or the Barnes & Noble Nook, according to a survey of 245 e-reader owners released today by ChangeWave Research.

"That finding is revolutionary with the iPad and has long-term implications for the media," said Paul Carton, an analyst at ChangeWave who spoke in a Web conference with reporters.

ChangeWave said 50% of iPad owners say they read newspapers with the device and 38% say they read magazines. Of the owners of other e-readers, 14% say they read newspapers and 11% read magazines on the devices.

Of the 245 respondents, 62% used Kindles, while 16% used the iPad, ChangeWave said.

The 245 respondents with e-readers use a Kindle from Amazon by 62%, while 16% use an iPad, ChangeWave said. Carton said iPad's second place finish was significant, coming just weeks after the initial release. Seven percent of the respondents were Sony Reader users, which was the same percentage of users who had smartphones with an e-book capability or "other" e-reader device. The Nook from Barnes & Noble came in with 3%.

In a related survey, with a much larger sample, 3,174 consumers said that e-books were the predominant content they read with e-readers when compared to newspapers, magazines and blogs. When asked why they would likely buy an iPad, 15%, the highest response, said they would use it as an e-reader. Other reasons such as the iPad's mobility, size and weight , were also given.

Many analysts have forecast that the iPad, with its full-color, video-capable touchscreen, would outperform the Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader, which have black-and-white screens based on e-ink technology.

One of those analysts, Carl Howe of Yankee Group, said in January that the manufacturers of black-and-white e-readers "need to either step up their efforts toward color and video or watch Apple claim their customers." In an e-mail today, Howe said he stands by that comment, but added that he doesn't think the iPad will hurt the overall e-reader market, but will make it grow. The iPad outsold the Nook and Kindle in April, he said.

"I expect that trend will continue for the foreseeable future, simply because they all serve different markets, and the iPad is a whole lot more than an e-reader," Howe added.

Van Baker, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said the success of e-readers will depend on many factors, not just the device's hardware. One consideration, for example, will be access to books and other content from a variety of publishers.

"The iPad is the one e-reader that is cross-platform, or cross-store," Baker noted in an e-mail. "If you want to buy books from the iBook store, you can do that, but if you want to buy from the Amazon or Barnes & Noble or Kobo bookstore, you can do that, too," Baker said. "This puts the iPad in a unique position among the e-readers in the market."

Apple is going to enhance its e-book sales when iBook reader software comes out on the iPhone , he noted, since there will already be 100 million credit-card accounts registered with Apple for its iPhone and other devices, making it easy for users to purchase books.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld . Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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