The iPad Passes The Kindle – 24/7 Wall St.

Recent research shows that the number of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPads has passed the number of Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindles in the hands of consumers. The news could undermine Amazon’s successful e-book store as the largest e-commerce business in the US also feels pressure from the Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook and Sony’s (NYSE: SNE) e-reader. The market is becoming more fragmented. Analysts believed that the Kindle would keep its place as market share leader, but now that appears to be an uncertain assumption.“Apple stated it has shipped 3.27 [million] iPads since the April product launch, surpassing our estimate for an installed base of [around 3 million] Amazon Kindles to date despite supply constraints,” Marianne Wolk, an analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group, wrote.

The advantage could improve quickly as Apple builds enough machines to fill all orders for the device that are currently backlogged.

The data is an sign that Apple’s ability to disrupt businesses and the ecosystems in which they operate is accelerating. It doomed the lead position that Sony had in the media player market when the iPod was introduced in 2001. The byproduct of that was the growth of iTunes which has allowed Apple to virtually control the music distribution industry. CD sales drop each month as consumers move toward digital downloads.

Apple has also had a profound effect on PC sales, particularly at the high-end of the market. Mac sales may not be close to those of PCs, but among people paying more than $1,000 for a computer Apple has a disproportionate share of the market. Is Mac OS has cut into the Windows franchise and as Mac sales rise, that is likely to continue. The same is true for the Apple Safari browser that bedevils the makers of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Chrome

Apple has become one of the dominate smartphone operating systems with each iPhone sale. If Google had not launched the Android mobile OS, Apple’s place in the industry would be even stronger. Apple has certainly undermined the market position of the Research In Motion (NYSE: RIMM) Blackberry OS . It could be argued the popularity of the iPhone and its operating system drove Palm from the market.

Apple’s iPad is barely three months old. Its presence threatens the entire netbook category, the fastest growing part of the PC market. A number of PC firms have said they will launch tablets, but none have. Apple may have taken a very large piece of the market before the first PC-based tablet comes to market.

The Kindle looked like it had an insurmountable lead in the e-reader sector, particularly when it cut prices. Amazon chief Jeff Bezos bragged about its growth, but not give any hard numbers. Perhaps that is because the hard numbers are not has good as the market expects.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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