IDC: Nook Color Leading E-Reader Sales For First Time Ever, As Tablets Lag

Barnes & Noble Nook Color

Kindle’s sales are suffering from Amazon’s lack of a color offering, at least that’s the read from a new e-reader report released this afternoon. The Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) Nook, with both color and black-and-white versions, now leads e-reader sales for the first time, according to research firm IDC.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) better hurry up and release its rumored color tablet. The buyers are there: e-reader sales grew by 105 percent year-on-year, IDC found. The company forecasts that the worldwide e-reader market will ship 16.2 million units in 2011 — a 24 percent increase over 2010, and still a conservative estimate compared to recent Pew and eMarketer reports.

3.3 million e-readers were shipped in the first quarter of 2011, IDC said, and its data is based on numbers shipped. Amazon and Barnes & Noble do not release e-reader sales numbers.

Meanwhile, IDC says, tablet sales are slipping, even for the iPad. Analysts said iPad shipments for the first quarter were “well below expectations,” which could have had to do with the iPad 2 being announced several weeks before it was actually available. That’s despite major expansion beyond the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) stores to big-box retailers. Tablets from mobile phone companies like Samsung and Motorola (NYSE: MMI) faced challenges based on consumers’ reluctance to sign up for the 3G plans often required by those carriers.

However, Android-based tablets grew to 34 percent of the total, an increase of about 8 percent over the previous quarter. And IDC expects that, in total, 53 million tablets will ship this year.

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