Sunday, December 28, 2008

Search Activity: Kindle vs. Sony Reader

Google Trends is one of my favorite analysis tools, and it's totally free. It can tell you how popular a search term is and it's particularly useful when comparing two or more related phrases.

Every so often I like to compare the phrase "Amazon Kindle" with "Sony Reader" to see who's winning the search battle. You can see for yourself by either clicking the image to the left or clicking here to see the full results on Google Trends.

No matter how you look at it, you'll notice two things. First, and it's old news, but the Kindle took an early but short-lived lead in search activity when it first hit the scene 13 months ago. It's been trailing the Reader ever since, but briefly surged back ahead earlier in the fourth calendar quarter, right about the time Oprah went ga-ga over it...which brings me to the second point: as we got further into the holiday shopping season, while Amazon has been out-of-stock, the Reader has opened up a huge lead over the Kindle in search activity.

If this metric is at all meaningful, and I tend to believe it is, Amazon just keeps shooting themselves in the foot with these poorly timed out-of-stock situations. Clearly there's a pretty strong (and growing) interest in the Sony Reader.


@sd said...

Do the searches without "amazon", just "kindle", and you'll see how the roles are reversed.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't many savvy folks go directly to Amazon and search for Kindle instead of going to Google?

Joe Wikert said...

Hi Sebastian. I felt it made the most sense to include the company names with both searches. After all, "kindle" is a common word. So if you remove both "Amazon" and "Sony", you're back to the pattern I described, but I think it contains a lot of other searches besides ebook readers.

Anonymous, perhaps you're right, but couldn't the same be said for savvy customers going right to Sony's site and not searching via Google?

Anonymous said...

Interesting idea, though I think I would tend to agree with some of the prior comments: Amazon is a fairly well traveled site that bombards its visitors with ads for the Kindle. People know where to find it. For instance, I own a Kindle and have never searched Google for the term, though I have searched for Sony Reader to learn about it.

This is not to say that Amazon has done a good job with the Kindle (and its distribution platform) thus far.

Joe Wikert said...

By the same token, have you ever noticed how many regular Amazon customers have never heard of the Kindle? I've blogged about this before and it shows how many Amazon customers don't notice the ads. That's probably because they're immediately entering a search phrase and not browsing, but I'm amazed how ineffective Amazon's on-site advertising has been.

Timothy Fish said...

Search statistics is a hard metric to judge. While many customers may not see the ads, in my day to day browsing, I see a lot more about Kindle than I do Sony Reader. If I wanted to learn more about Sony Reader I would go to Google and search for it. With Kindle I don't need to search for it since all the information I would every want is just a click away. As I write this I notice that a think about them differently. Above I wrote with out thinking Kindle and then I wrote Sony Reader. When you look at those phases together, Kindle has had an advantage ever since the initial spike in 2007.

@sd said...

Joe, I understand your reasons for adding the company names to exclude extraneous results.

But I don't think many users search for the full "amazon kindle", where as "sony reader" is more common.

In any case, add the lone "kindle" to google trends and you'll see two things: there is no way the results include any (or rather, many) non e-reader results for "kindle", and twice as many people were interested in the kindle than in the sony reader.

I'm a kindle user and I love it, but I'm still a little bit confused when it runs out of stock but I've yet to see more than a couple of them in the wild in NYC, where I cross paths with thousands of people every day. Perhaps not everyone reads in the subway like I do? But even then, I've never seen even a single non-kindle reader.

I think most analysts (and bloggers, gadget geeks and freaks) keep looking for an "ipod-level boom" on the kindle and are disappointed when they can't find it. The kindle is no ipod and will never be, if only because reading is not music listening.

Anonymous said...


I have been blogging about both the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader for almost a year now. Every day, the stats consistently show that the posts about the Sony Reader are more popular (collectively) than those about the Kindle by two to one.

Likewise, for the search terms that bring people to my blog.

It could be because people who are interested in e-book readers already know quite a bit about the Kindle but less about the Sony Reader.

It could be that people already know where to find the Kindle and books for it, but fewer know the same about the Sony Reader.

Or, of course, it could be because Sony is destined to outsell the Kindle...eventually, but personally I wouldn't bet on that, at least not yet.

Walt Shiel
Publisher, Slipdown Mountain Publications LLC

Anonymous said...

I have a Sony Reader PRS-700. I read on it every day in the New York subway (E line) and on the NJ Path train. I'm really surprised that I've only seen 3 Kindles in the last year and 2 Sony e-Readers. I don't know where all the owners are reading, but it appears it isn't on public transportation. The time I spend on public transport and the weight of hardcover books were the two primary reasons I bought my reader, so I don't get it. The Sony Readers should have an edge now that they have a touch screen model, are sold in all Target and Borders stores, as well as Sony Style stores, since you can actually touch one before buying, unlike the Kindle. Joe is definately right, Amazon is dropping the ball on all the major consumer issues after a great start with the Kindle - really disapointing.