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2008-05-24

The Kindle Is Dead

Recent efforts by Amazon to tout how the first run of Kindles sold out smacks of desperation, because the fact is we don't know what that means. Amazon refuses to release sales figures. They could have made only 100 devices and sold them all, which would make it hardly the runaway success they're trying to say it is.

Among the many problems with the Kindle I've written about before, add another noticed by Mrs. Librarian (who keeps me Playful): we have yet to see a single person on the subways, buses, or commuter trains using the device.

We don't own a car, so we use a lot of public transportation and have witnessed all manner of human behavior on it. But the Kindle, which is now six months old and was released in time for the 2007 holiday gift-giving season, is not part of it. It has simply not made its way into people's workaday world.

By contrast, within a day of their respective releases, we saw people using Sony's PSP and the iPhone. We also still see countless people reading paper-based books and magazines and newspapers on public transit—this includes, by the way, school-age individuals, who as part of the Google Generation supposedly should have taken to the Kindle like, well, moths to the flame.

I think it's safe to say the Kindle's light has gone out.

5 comments:

gretchen said...

I have actually seen a few people on the subway using the Kindle and their responses to my inquiry were all the same (and not a surprise) - "It's great, BUT {emphasis mine} the buttons are in the wrong place and I am always turning the pages by accident."

porpentine11 said...

I, too, have seen a Kindle on the subway, though I should add that sales of books for the Kindle seem to be slow. I have been watching the sale's rank of a book that now stands at 73,909 among Kindle books. It's rank was around 21,000 twice, meaning two people bought a copy for their kindle. For the past three months, the descent of it's rank slowed considerably, moving down from around 61,000 at a snail's pace. I know this isn't scientific, but the first time the book was ranked in the low 20,000s, it quickly went back to the 80,000s and that was when there were only 90,000 books available. If 5 people would buy that book during the same week it might find itself among the top 5,000.

steve s. said...

Citibank's analyst estimates that Amazon sold between 10,000 and 30,000 kindles in the first quarter. The Goldman Sachs estimate is between 25,000 and 50,000 for the same period. Tiny numbers if you are comparing with things like iPhones and ipods.
Having said that, I have only run across one person with a kindle. His experience was much as Gretchen has outlined, and he said that he had not bought it but had received it as a gift.

steve s. said...

Gamestop announced today that they will no longer carry the Zune. Amazon announced that they are going to drop the price on the Kindle. Looks like a race to the bargain bin.

librarian@play said...

It happens so infrequently that I get tingly when I'm right . . .