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Amazon: Apple's claim of 20% e-book share is suspicious

updated 05:30 pm EDT, Mon August 2, 2010

Amazon says Kindle at 80pc share, using own device

Amazon today in a talk provided some rare added insight into the Kindle by disputing Apple's market share claims. The store's VP of Digital Ian Freed believes assertions the iBookstore has 22 percent share are false as Amazon has too large a share, at 70 to 80 percent, for Apple to take the rest. With a field that also includes Barnes & Noble's Nook, the iBookstore's actual share is likely smaller, Freed said.

"Obviously, from the beginning of Amazon we've been very metrics focused and we don't typically throw out numbers we don't firmly believe in," he explained to CNET. "Take that 70 to 80 percent number and add up all the others and something somewhere isn't going to add up."

Apple's statistics are thought to be selective, as they only include its share among the five major publishers that sell through the iBookstore. They didn't include Random House or a number of independent publishers that may do business with Amazon or other retailers and which skew the results significantly more in Amazon's favor. Its share may be growing as well, as Amazon is ahead of the American Association of Publishers' tracked 200 percent growth rate in e-book share.

The discussion also revealed that Amazon is heavily dependent on Kindle device sales. About 80 percent of all unique readers own a Kindle reader, whether it's their only reading device or not, the VP said. Only a minority use the iPad, a smartphone or a computer to read using the Kindle software. A "lot" of customers also see a halo effect which starts them on a mobile app and leads them to buy the Kindle hardware later.

Freer cautioned that the connection between books and devices wasn't part of a planned business model. The Kindle business is designed to be profitable and independent of the e-book sales themselves.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Heinz Doofenshmirtz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon is getting desperate...

    Look at the fact they're spewing FUD about Apple's success, and the fact they've slashed prices on Kindles YET AGAIN.

    Like Monoposoft, they're fighting a losing battle. The days of single purpose devices like the Kindle are over.

    If I were an Amazon shareholder, I'd have started divesting a long, LONG, time ago...


    Joined: Dec 1969


    Marketshare of whom?

    While Amazon claims 70 to 80% marketshare, why should their claims be believed more than anyone elses? We have no idea just how many Kindles they've sold, though it's expected that it's well under the number of iPads Apple has sold in just a short time. While it's not likely that a majority of iPad owners use the Kindle app, it's likely a fair number do, as I do, as do iPhone and iPod Touch users. But I also buy books from Apple's store, B&N's store, Apple's app store, which should be counted here for any number to make sense, and others.

  1. dliup

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon can't count

    Amazon said they sold 3 million Kindles in 2 years. Apple sold 3 million iPad in 1 quarter.

  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: dliup

    So what? The numbers of devices sold doesn't matter. The Kindle is specifically for e-book reading. So you know people who buy them actually use it for that.
    People who purchases an iPad doesn't necessarily mean they will use it for e-books.

  1. chas_m



    Amazon = full of BS

    First of all, Amazon has typically been very cagey and secretive with actual numbers, and even harder to pin down with documentation. Nobody actually knows (and Amazon has never actually said) exactly how many Kindles they've sold.

    Second, for a company that's "focused on metrics from the very beginning," why can't they get their own share claim to a specific number? "70 to 80 percent" is a pretty wide berth, to put it mildly. If it's 70 percent, then h*** yes there's plenty of room for Apple's 22 percent ... nobody seriously believes the Nook or the other niche players are selling more than a percent or two.

    I'd be surprised if Apple actually outsold the combined total of all Kindles ever in their first quarter, but there's little doubt they have surpassed that total by now, having sold at least another 3M since that first quarter ended.

    Finally, Apple has never -- at least since Steve came back, and never to my knowledge -- been proven to have made a false claim. Look at the backlash from Apple's brilliant "antennagate" ju-jitsu. So yeah, Amazon, good luck with calling Apple liars when you're one of the most fudgy-numbers companies on the net. Good luck with that.

  1. sfmitch

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Number or no numbers but no BS

    I really like Amazon but the way they release, or actually don't release, sales info for the Kindle totally sucks. It doesn't make sense that Amazon won't release Kindle sales information.

    If Amazon won't release Kindle sales information, then they should STFU.

    Selectively commenting is BS.

  1. mayadanteamihan

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Is this the only way Amazon could get in the news?

  1. qazwart

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon is probably correct

    Apple probably is fudging the numbers a bit. Most ebook readers are read-a-holics who purchase dozens of books each year and probably read three or more books per month. For these people, independent book sellers and the other publishers not covered by Apple are big sellers.

    Apple is probably only including the five publishers in their survey.

    Remember that the Kindle isn't the motive for Amazon. They don't want to compete against the iPad or iPhone. They want to sell ebooks which are more profitable than physical books. The Kindle is a mere razor and Amazon's money is in the blades.

    The Kindle may not be produced in five years, but Amazon won't care as long as they are able to sell books electronically.

    Their fear is not people will stop buying Kindles, but will stop buying books via the Kindle bookstore. The Kindle app on the iPad is actually more important for Amazon than the Kindle.

  1. dimmer

    Joined: Dec 1969



    "Apple is probably only including the five publishers in their survey."

    Apple have always been upfront about this: of the eBooks they and others sell, they sell 22% of them. What would the point be of saying they sell 0% of the things they don't sell?

    This is a better metric than just a simple % of total sales, as that figure is meaningless in a fragmented market. But it seems to be that figure which Amazon wants to play with.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    amazon dominates ebooks

    Apple currently is not competitive - if you don't get that, ask a few independent authors to compare sales by channel.

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