One could be forgiven for assuming there were only two contestants in the e-reading race: Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle. However, new research appears to boost the visibility of a lesser-known entry: Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Sales of the Nook comprised more than half of e-readers shipped in the U.S. in March, according to DigiTimes.
Citing “upstream suppliers,” DigiTimes researcher Mingchi Kuo writes “the Nook accounted for 53 percent of e-book readers shipped to US vendors last month.”
The researcher points to two reasons why the Nook is overshadowing the Kindle: its a newer name and consumers can touch the gadget at a local retailer. The report may provide the reason why Amazon recently announced its Kindle would be sold through retailer Target. (Target already sells the Sony e-Reader. It’s any guess when the iPad will appear alongside those two.)
The report could also lend credence to those suggesting Amazon needs to refresh its Kindle line. In January, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the Seattle-based company had sold “millions” of the e-reader, a slip some used to estimate the Internet bookseller has shipped around 3 million of the devices. For its part, the Nook recently gained Android-based games, a Web browser and the ability for consumers to read entire books while in the bookstore.
One possible future update of the Kindle came to light last month when Freescale said it would produce more streamlined chips destined for the Amazon reader, as well as Sony. The new chips, reportedly available in about six months, could permit the Kindle to upgrade its display and quicken the time it takes to ‘turn’ an electronic page (from two seconds to under a half-second.) But perhaps most important for consumers, the new chip could cut the Kindle’s price to under $150 from the current $259.