Despite Apple’s push to leverage the iPad to conquer the e-reader market, numbers say consumers have other plans. Earlier this week, CEO Steve Jobs trumpeted his iBooks store selling 100 billion ebooks during the service’s first 11 months. Eclipsing that marker is new research indicating music downloads are five times as popular and 15 times as many apps downloaded during the same period.
“The conclusion that can be drawn so far is that apps/songs show an order of magnitude more popularity than ebooks,” said Asymco’s Horace Dediu Friday. It is unclear whether Kindle’s ebooks outsell Amazon’s music downloads because the two companies offer differing delivery methods, with the Seattle-based Internet retailer foregoing an Apple-like integration of ebooks, music and app sales.
However, for fans of the printed word, the research results do offer a sobering conclusion. Despite being available for just a decade, they are already outselling a 400-year-old medium. “The download data shows how quickly new media displaces old,” Dediu notes.
Which makes Jobs’ remarks four years ago to the New York Times worthy of scratched heads. “Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole concept is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.” So why is Apple putting so much emphasis on ereaders and its battle with Amazon’s Kindle?
“Do we have another example of Steve’s classic misdirection where he dismisses a category only to enter and dominate it at some later time? the analyst asks. Maybe. One key to the popularity of ereaders is the lack of physical objects. Like previous surveys which have found few downloaded apps are actually used, e-readers allow hundred of books to be stored, but never read.