Amazon announced on Thursday that it’s selling a million Kindles a week, and has done so for the past three weeks. Given the company’s past refusal to say how many Kindles it’s selling, this is big news… but things are still not as clear as you might think.
In the past, Amazon has announced Kindle sales milestones without giving real numbers. In November, the company declared it was the best Black Friday ever for the Kindle line, saying the Kindle Fire was “the bestselling product at Amazon for eight weeks running.” The company has talked about Kindle sales growth and its rankings among Amazon’s other products for years now, but never with any specific sales figures.
Now we’ve got two new facts about the Kindle: There are a million Kindles selling every week, and the Kindle Fire is the bestselling product on Amazon.com. However, it’s important to point out that Amazon sells several other Kindle models, most notably the fourth-generation Kindle and the Kindle Touch. So Amazon is not selling a million Kindle Fires a week.
Amazon says the Kindle Fire is the sales leader among Kindles, but I’d wager that the company’s selling a lot of E Ink-based devices too. As someone who’s used both the $200 Fire and the $79 fourth-generation Kindle, I’d recommend the fourth-generation Kindle with few reservations—and I’m not alone.
As for my take on the Fire? It’s complicated. Suffice it to say that the fourth-generation Kindle bears many signs of refinement over the past four years. The Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire, meanwhile, are first-generation products… and show it.
The Kindle Fire’s reviews have been mixed, and a recent New York Times article suggested that there’s a backlash brewing. I suspect Amazon won’t really know how big a hit the Fire is until sometime early next year. After all, every purchase Amazon ships from November 1 through the end of the year can be returned for a refund through the end of January.
But despite the questions I have about Amazon’s numbers, the bottom line is, they are numbers… and they show that Amazon’s selling a lot of Kindles of all kinds. That’s good news for Amazon, and for the ebook reader market in general. It also strongly suggests that, as many pundits predicted, the Kindle Fire has a good chance to be the first successful tablet whose name doesn’t begin with a lowercase i.