iPad quickly adopted as e-reader on Wattpad

Smartphones widely used for e-reading of cloud-based e-book content

The Apple iPad quickly became an e-book reading platform in the second quarter, while use of BlackBerry smartphones for e-reading declined, according to cloud-based e-book provider Wattpad.

Wattpad offers downloadable content from published and unpublished writers for free, and it supports hundreds of tablets, smartphones and desktops for e-reading. In the second quarter, Wattpad tracked which devices were used to read e-books of its content over 1 billion minutes, the Toronto-based company said in a report.

Overall, the iPad, introduced in April, accounted for about 5% of reading on Wattpad among all the Apple devices. E-reading on iPod devices accounted for 49% of the e-book reading on Apple devices and iPhones accounted for 46%.

E-reading of Wattpad content on all Apple devices (including the iPad) grew by 23% in the second quarter, while BlackBerry e-book consumption fell 9%. Wattpad didn't disclose the minutes used by any of the individual devices. E-book reading on Java devices, mainly used in Asia, grew by 56%, while e-book reading on Android devices grew by 25%.

Ivan Yuen, Wattpad's chief technology officer, said the findings show that a large variety of devices are used to read e-books, compared with a year ago when bestselling e-readers from Amazon and Sony, as well as the iPhone, were regarded as the primary e-reading platforms. "E-books that are available on one device or one format will be missing out on many fast-growing segments of the market," he said.

Smartphones overall are the most popular type of mobile device for reading e-books in the U.S.; that's due in part to the popularity of Apple and Android devices, Wattpad said. Wattpad didn't include numbers for specific proprietary e-readers like the Kindle.

Wattpad offers few titles by well-known authors, since that material is copyrighted. The company has filters to prevent users from posting copyrighted content, said Wattpad CEO Allen Lau, who explained that Wattpad is "conceptually similar to YouTube" for written content.

Downloads of the Wattpad app on iTunes rank close to downloads for Kindle and Barnes & Noble e-reading apps, he said.

Wattpad is able to anonymously measure usage for downloaded content by tracking how long an e-book was used on a particular device, even offline, he said. The offline usage data is available to Wattpad once a user reconnects.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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