For the first time since Kindle launched and quickly became the dominant device in the e-reader marketplace, the top selling e-reader, worldwide, for the first quarter of 2011 was not an Amazon product. According to a report from IDC Research, rival bookseller Barnes & Noble's color LCD e-reader, the NOOK Color, pushed out the Kindle as the top selling e-book platform. While individual sales figures were not released, IDC says 3.3 million e-readers were shipped during the quarter, and estimates for NOOK Color sales have been pegged at 600,000 to 700,000 units per month during that timeframe.
What makes the NOOK Color's performance even more impressive is that the device has been in circulation since November, 2009 -that's pretty long in the tooth when it comes to electronics. Not only that, but the NOOK Color was priced at $249 and competing against a Kindle that could be had for half that price. Anticipation that B&N was going to upgrade the NOOK Color to a full-blown Android tablet (a prediction that came true with May's firmware update 1.2) may have had a lot to do with this impressive sales run. While $249 may seem steep for an e-reader, it's a bargain for a decent tablet computer.
Naturally these results put even more pressure on Amazon to fight back with a tablet-based e-reader of its own, but for now, Barnes & Noble is enjoying having the field largely to itself.
Full IDC press release here.