Apple's iPad Did Not Kill the Kindle — It Only Made it Stronger

Third-generation e-reader now online retailer's best-selling product ever

When Steve Jobs introduced Apple's iPad way back in January, many people — myself included — thought he was, among other things, taking dead aim at Amazon's Kindle e-reader. The Kindle, I sensed, could be toast.

Looks like I was wrong. Amazon is notoriously mum when it comes to releasing sales figures, but there are two signs 2010 may have been an unlikely banner year for the Kindle.

First, the online retailer announced on Monday that its third-generation Kindle — the one with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity — is now the bestselling product of all-time on Amazon.com, passing “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the seventh book in J.K. Rowling’s epic series, for the top slot. Again, Amazon won’t release specific sales figures for either the Kindle or “Harry Potter,” just where they rank.

"We're seeing that many of the people who are buying Kindles also own an LCD tablet,” like the iPad, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “Customers report using their LCD tablets for games, movies, and web browsing and their Kindles for reading sessions.”

Bezos said Kindle customers prefer it for e-books “because it weighs less, eliminates battery anxiety with its month-long battery life, and has the advanced paper-like Pearl e-ink display that reduces eye-strain, doesn't interfere with sleep patterns at bedtime, and works outside in direct sunlight, an important consideration especially for vacation reading.”

The other positive signs for Kindle supporters: according to a Bloomberg report last week citing “two people who are aware of the company’s sales projections,” Amazon is on track to sell 8 million Kindles this year. Undoubtedly, part of the booming sales can be attributed to the $139 base price — when Amazon first introduced the Kindle, in 2007, it was priced at $399.

By comparison, Apple sold more than 7 million iPads during the first six months months the device was on sale – putting projections for the year at well over 8 million, and perhaps above the 10-11-million mark.

Also worth noting: According to a Goldman Sachs forecast, roughly 54.7 million tablets will be sold in 2011 — and 37.2 million will be iPads.