Amazon's boasting that its Kindle e-reader is having a record December for sales. Should we be surprised?
The company is making it very easy to order a Kindle this holiday season, while Barnes & Noble's Nook and Sony's top-shelf Reader Daily Edition struggle to meet holiday demand. In a new promotion, if you order a Kindle by December 22, you get free two-day shipping, guaranteeing that the e-reader will arrive by Christmas Eve.
Still, it's not fair for Amazon to compare its December sales to previous years, because this is the first year Amazon has been able to meet demand. When the Kindle debuted in 2007, supply dried up immediately, and shortages lasted through the holidays. The Kindle sold out again during the 2008 holiday season as well. You can't compare holidays when not everyone could get a Kindle in years past. Amazon also won't provide actual sales figures, and likely never will unless required for financial reports, as PaidContent noted.
That's not to say sales aren't excellent. Amazon says the Kindle was bought, gifted and wished for more than any other product across the retailer's site.
The bigger picture here is that Amazon has triumphed with a fully-cooked product that's rolling steadily off the assembly lines. I'll admit that I was initially excited for both the Nook and Sony's line of e-readers, but tepid Nook reviews and the high cost of a Wi-Fi-equipped Sony reader have spoiled the fun.
Sure, the Kindle isn't perfect. It's lacking the color and the touch screens found in Sony's and Barnes & Noble's e-readers -- and I don't expect that to change soon, as there are no supply shortages to hint at an upgrade -- but the software is solid, and Amazon has shown that it can improve some aspects of the device, such as battery life, through firmware upgrades. I'm not crazy about the Kindle's proprietary format for e-books either, but spoiled is person who complains about that when unwrapping the Kindle on Christmas morning.