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7.5 million iPads. How many Kindles?

Apple sold more than 4 million iPads between July and September, the company announced Monday. The news was part of its quarterly report and brings sales tally for the device, which was launched in April, to almost 7.5 million.

How big is that number? According to Bernstein Research, "the iPad is a runaway success of unprecedented proportion," seeing faster adoption rates than all non-phone electronic devices.

Even faster than the Kindle? Amazon has been dropping prices and making improvements, and sending out regular announcements about the Kindle's popularity. For example, in August Amazon circulated a press release announcing that "more new generation Kindles were ordered in the first four weeks of availability than in the same timeframe following any other Kindle launch, making the new Kindles the fastest-selling ever."

But exactly how many Kindles Amazon sold is not known.

Not that we don't want to know -- Jacket Copy asked promptly upon recieving the announcement. Our query was met with this response: "For competitive reasons, we don't disclose unit sales figures." A request sent today has not yet been answered.

This lack of transparency has sent people guessing about Kindle sales. In January 2009, Tech Crunch estimated that Amazon had sold about 3 million Kindles; another estimate put the number at 3.3 million. In July, before the new-generation Kindle was introduced, Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey estimated that 4 million Kindles had been sold since the device was introduced in November 2007.

Clearly, the new Kindle boosted those numbers. But all Amazon has said so far is that they have "sold millions of Kindles overall."

Are Kindle sales, which had a 2.5-year head start, somewhere around 4 or 5 million? Or are they higher, and keeping pace with Apple's 7.5 million iPads?

This is more than just a horse race. Kindle is a device designed for reading ebooks; it has far more new books than Apple's iBookstore. With the latest news of the iPad sales figures, it's clear that millions of people are holding a different, full-color, multimedia e-reader in their hands. Will the potential of the iPad as an e-reader be fully exploited by Apple, and by publishers?

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / L.A. Times


Comments () | Archives (18)

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No doubt the iPad is outselling the Kindle, but in the end, Amazon is still coming out on top. Their substantial lead in the titles they offer (and it is very substantial) and the availability of the Kindle app for the iPad ultimately makes it the far more used platform for reading.

I own both the Kindle and the iPad and I read as many if not more eBooks on the iPad. But probably two-thirds of what I read on the iPad is through the Kindle app. Ultimately, I've spent more money purchasing books for the Kindle than iBooks. As long as Amazon can maintain the lead in content and maintain their lead as the number one dedicated eBook reader, they're going to come out on top in the eBook wars.

so here's the thing - the Kindle is juts for reading. The Ipad is not. In fact, I wouldnt' want the ipad for reading due to the high glare screen. so this compares apples and oranges.

Why are you comparing "apples" to oranges? The Kindle an e-reading device that is just for reading. The iPad is an incomplete tablet that has more serious competition to consider in the rising tablet market. Let's see what happens when Samsung and Blackberry bring their Fruit to market.

The i-pad will not work as a reader. It's way too heavy. It's like holding a dictionary. Also, the glare is a serious drawback. I think Kindle or Nook are the way to go. Amazon is the best source for books. However, Kindle has the battery problem where you have to send in the device to get the battery replaced. I don't need that hassle. Other than that, Kindle would be hands down the best e-reader. I hope they solve the battery issue soon. If someone could just come up with an e-reader where you don't have to send the device in to change the battery, and that has good contrast when reading in sub-par light (e.g., in bed), they would have a lot more customers. Right now I'm waiting for the technology to improve.

People love to hate Apple but everyone copies what Apple does. Sure some of the copycats have been more successful, and that may well turn out to be the case with other tablet makers, but without Apple there is no innovation, period.

I don't know what any of you are talking about. The iPad works *wonderfully* as a reader. There's even a Kindle app for the iPad, so you can download any Kindle book from Amazon just like you can on the massively, massively less functional Amazon device.

And I don't believe for a second that anyone who is neither disabled nor elderly could consider the iPad "heavy". Please.

This article is a stupid comparison. You're comparing a tablet PC to an e-Reader. That's like comparing a rotary phone to a smartphone. Who would buy an iPad to use as a reader? That's just silly.

The naysayers about the iPad have never used one. I work in a hotel and talk to lots of guests with iPads and everyone LOVES them. This device will only get bigger even when the Windows tablets hit the market. Apple's design, app integration and price will not be overcome by those late to the market copycats. When the second generation comes out with FaceTime integration you'll see the sales skyrocket.

It used to be that just about every month there was an "iPod killer" coming out to take the shine of the iPod but the only thing that's cut into iPod sales has been the iPhone.

Kindle will go away and Amazon will sell books mainly for the iPad. It's inevitable. Just like no one buys a cellphone just to make calls these days, no one is going to get an eReader just for books, unless it's FREE.

I just bought a Sony eReader and am quite happy. It's better than my older Gemstar eBook, yet I've had many hours of entertainment literature-wise with it as well over the years. Amazon doesn't support it but my local LA city library does and 21 days is enough to get through the average novel or technical book. So it's not color. Less load on the battery and without having to charge it for over 7 days, not bad. Don't have to buy the latest toy to be happy. I might think about iPad 2.0 but not in a rush. I've even found lots of reading material on Smashwords from many unknown writers who publish in a compatible format.
So, iPad, Kindle, eBook or whatever; isn't the point to at least read something and fill the brain and mind with something useful? A regular paperback or bound volume is often still fun too.

Here's the thing, I bet anything that the Kindle's sales will sky rocket IF AND ONLY IF it can do COLORS.

There are thousands of best-seller books out there that would be just ordinary books (that no one would read) without the color photos or images that they include.

Would you buy and/or read a photography book (travel books, nature books, etc.) in B&W ?

Uggh...I can't read books on the iPad, just like I can't read from the computer monitor. The iPad is good to read a newspaper article or two, but the backlight gives me a headache after a while. The Kindle, on the other hand, I can read pages and pages without a problem.

Oh, the Kindle must have sold at least 250,000, no? *S* I mean, no one really knows, so anyone's guess is as good as Amazon's rough estimate.

It may have sold even less, for that matter.

I don't entirely understand the point of this article. It seems to assume that every iPad purchase = a iBooks user. These are obviously two different things.

iPad also runs the Kindle app... and Nook app. In fact, iPad and Kindle (the Kindle eco system) aren't exactly at odds with each other. Every PC/Mac sold is also a potential ebook reader, why not compare computer sales w/Kindles sold?

Hmm... anyways, yea. Hi la times commenters. Its raining!

Are we all forgetting The Kindle is...$139

The ipad (which is the worst name EVER) is $500

My kids DS has a reader game (like a library of 100 titles) that I bought thinking she would read it lol. its so uncomfortable to read!

I would by an ereader to read, not a computer!

I would buy a DS to play games, not a computer!

if your like me, a reader who takes a book (e reader is easier to carry) every where,,, then you know you could never carry a computer with ease. The idea makes me laugh

I don't want any products from Apple because they are starting to creep me out.

I love my Kindle. I don't want some reading device that also gets the Internet. I like my Kindle because it shields me from all that noise and lets me focus on my reading 100%

I couldn't use the Kindle for reading way to small of print and don't think I'd spend money on the Kindle for just reading.

Actually Lisa, one of the advantages of the Kindle (and every eReader out there, I think), is that the text size can be adjusted.

I've used both the Kindle and the iPad to read books and personally, I preferred the latter, largely because it handles PDFs better (which is still the only usable format for technical books). I'm hesitant about buying most eBooks, however, for concern that the books will end up being DRM'd tech orphans down the line. I figure tech books have a short life span so I'll read those on a reader.

But overall, I'm still a paper book person for now.

The Kindle's unlit screen is great, and a lot better for reading than the Ipad's. I love how easy the Ipad is to use, but for reading, it doesn't come close to the Kindle.


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