Apple iBooks at 24% Worldwide Ebook Market Share? One Analyst Thinks So

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Apple could have a 24% market share in the ebook retail business worldwide, according to Horace Dediu, the founder of Asymco, a website that publishes analysis of business trends.

According to his analysis, Apple sold about 200 million ebooks in 2012, or about 17 million a month. An estimate by Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Devitt that Dediu cites puts worldwide ebook sales in 2012 was 859 million units, giving Apple a 24% market share. Further, Dediu estimates that Apple grosses about $9 per ebook sold, giving the company $1.8 billion in ebook sales revenue*.

At least one blogger casts some serious doubts on these numbers.

In the U.S., ebook market share is often cited as breaking down as follows:

– Amazon: 65%
– Barnes & Noble: 25%
– Apple: 10%
– Others: Rounding error

In conversation with many digital publishing executives, it seems that these numbers — if they ever had much basis in reality — have shifted somewhat in Apple’s favor. Over the past several months, Digital Book World has been hearing that Apple is gaining market share in ebooks in the U.S. — mostly at the expense of Barnes & Noble. And, since the U.S. is the world’s largest ebook market by far, these numbers should have a big effect on overall worldwide numbers. Another factor to consider is that, Apple, unlike Barnes & Noble, is selling ebooks in dozens of countries. Amazon and Kobo also sell ebooks in more than a dozen other countries.

Read more of Dediu’s analysis here.

* By our estimation, this is an optimistic assessment. The average price of an ebook best-seller currently is about $8 though it hovered around $10 for much of last year. However, best-sellers only represent a piece of the puzzle and many ebooks — back-list titles, self-published titles — are sold for well under $10. 

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7 thoughts on “Apple iBooks at 24% Worldwide Ebook Market Share? One Analyst Thinks So

  1. In Brazil, Apple is the #1 store thanks to the 3-million iOS active devices in the country. There are no market share numbers available, but I would guess Apple has a 40-50% slice today. Still, 24% worldwide seems high.

  2. In Brazil, based on my own experience, I would say Apple has 30-35% of the market (although these numbers have been changing in favor of Amazon). If that’s the case in other emerging markets as well, maybe that could account for a higher percentage. 24% still seems too high, though, given the relatively small size of these markets in comparison to the US.

  3. I’d put it more like 80 percent worldwide for Amazon. 15 percent for Nook. 5 percent for Apple. Fractions of the rest for Kobo. I publish in multiple languages in many markets and Amazon is clearly dominating Germany, is competitive in much of Europe, and I get more Kindle sales in Brazil and Italian than in other countries (and get a fair number of foreign-language sales on the US Kindle.)

    These types of “analyses” always suffer from the same fundamental flaw of discounting the incredible weight and breadth of indie publishing, which gives Amazon an immeasurable advantage. True, we can’t measure because only Amazon knows, but even a cursory glance of the Kindle genre bestsellers charts show just how massive this presence is.

    Also be wary of the distinction between “ebooks sold” and “ebooks downloaded.” There are 55,000 free books a day on Amazon and the most popular of them get 15,000 downloads a day. Even if each free book only got 100 downloads a day, that easily beats these Apple numbers–that’s 5.5 million per day not even counting any Kindle book sales. This is basically comparing Apples to cinder blocks, not Apple to the rest of the ebook market.

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