For competitive reasons, Barnes & Noble and Amazon never report exactly how many e-readers they've sold. But word out of Taiwan's Digitimes, which is well known for its iPhone rumors, is that the bookseller has "taken delivery of close to 3 million Nook Color e-book readers from its production partner," according to a source from the Nook Color supply chain.
The article claims that the attractively priced Nook Color--and its "clearly differentiated display size" from the iPad--has captured more than 50 percent of the "iPad-like market" in North America. We assume that means 50 percent of the non-Apple tablet market.
Additionally, the article cites sources saying sales of the Nook Color topped 1 million during the 2010 holiday season and have been running in the 600,000-700,000 unit range in subsequent months. Inventec is allegedly producing the Nook Color and will also be producing HP's WebOS TouchPad tablet.
If these numbers are accurate (we actually think they are), it will interesting to see if Apple continues to ignore the smaller tablet market. Samsung and others will have new 7-inch models hitting stores later this year and there have been rumors that Amazon will enter the tablet market with a compact Android tablet that would tap into Amazon's recently launched Android Appstore, as well as the Kindle Store.
Just how many of the Nook Colors out there have been "rooted" with custom firmware, we have no idea, but we suspect many thousands have modded their Nooks into so-called "full" Android tablets. As we reported last week, Barnes & Noble finally will be launching its own Android app store in mid-April and updating the Nook Color's firmware to include Flash support. When that update arrives, it will become more of a full-fledged Android tablet, though the Nook Store will not have nearly the selection of the Android Market.