Apple Claims 20 Percent of E-Book Market Share

MacRumors is quoting a Publishers Weekly article wrap-up of today’s Apple trial, and the surprising bit is the 20 percent claim.

Here’s the quote:

The government also focused on the relative success of the iBookstore asking Moerer what marketshare the store held in the months after launch (about 20% Moerer said) and what its marketshare was after several years of operation and adding Random House in 2011 (also about 20%).

I don’t buy it. Let’s start with the statement itself. The market share a couple of months after iBooks launch was 20 percent? And it was still 20 percent after adding Random House? Call me crazy, but that doesn’t make a bit of sense. They added the largest general interest trade publisher, and their market share didn’t budge? Seems unlikely.

I also don’t buy the 20 percent in the months after launch. Why? Well, it’s an odd bit of data, but DRM-stripping tools for iBooks didn’t appear sometime last year. Why? According to the creators of the tools, because there weren’t enough people buying iBooks to make it worth their while to create the tools. If the “crooks” can’t be bothered, that should tell you something.

Of course it’s hardly the first time anyone’s used creative statistics in an e-book case.

Anyone have data to either back up Apple’s claims or dispute it? Just because it doesn’t pass my smell test doesn’t make it false.

6 Comments on Apple Claims 20 Percent of E-Book Market Share

  1. Umm, yeah evidence to the contrary is that some script kiddies claim they didn’t do something because their wasn’t demand for it? Seriously?

  2. Given that this was all said in court under oath… if they lied we’ll hear about it quickly. Of course, I’d be interested in how the figure was calculated. That the percentage didn’t change over time, according to Apple, says a lot more about Apple’s position in the market than the absolute numbers.

    Of course, it could be the usual Apple PR fluff. True but only meaningful to Apple. IF (no idea if this is true) the ebook market expanded but Apple’s share stayed the same, their absolute numbers still increased. Which I’m sure would make them happy since Apple is never really about total market share. They like carving out their own niche and profiting from that. Granted, that’s how they play the hardware game, not sure it applies to ebooks.

  3. I’m not buying it.

    Maybe they counted the free Winnie the Pooh book, which I also downloaded way back when on my iPad 1, just out of curiosity because they hyped it up during their original iPad reveal. If they did, they would be able to claim a marketshare based on iDevices sold.

  4. Another snippet from that Publishers Weekly post that seems to be missing here:

    “E-book sales grew 100% last year at the iBookstore and it had over 100 million customers.”

    So, the iBookstore went from about 20% of something to double that and was still about 20% of that something. From that 100 million customer number I would suspect this is based on people buying from iPad/iPhone devices.

    Another quote I’m not going to include — the government claimed the iBookstore was a failure even at that claimed 20%. I guess Apple does very well for a failure. After all, they’ve never (?) had more than 10% of the PC market and make more profit than any other PC vendor. And those billions of dollars in the bank? Obviously a failure.

  5. @Andy, I didn’t tackle the government claim of failure for that reason. It’s a crap argument. For what it’s worth, the more I read about it, the weaker I find the DoJ case, which both relieves and disappoints me. Relieves because I am an Apple fan, and it’s bothered me that they’d do something both illegal and so stupid. Disappoints because I despise what happened to stores like Fictionwise in the wake of agency pricing, and it sure was nice to have someone to blame. Looks like we might not get our scapegoat after all.

    @Xendula, good point about the free Winnie the Pooh book. I’d forgotten about that, and it would have been quite possible to play with the numbers by using that.

  6. Based on my sales data, I would say that the 20% number is probably not that far off, I think its a bit under 20%, closer to 18% based on my sales numbers, but still its a strong number.

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