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Amazon announces millions of Kindle sales. Wait, how many?

Newkindles2011
In what has become a post-Christmas tradition, Amazon released news Thursday that its Kindle e-readers sold big -- really big. In the millions, in fact.

That's more specific than the less-than-transparent online retailer usually gets; in November, a Techcrunch headline noted "Amazon: Kindles Are Flying Off The Shelves (But We’re Still Not Sharing Numbers)." Unlike Apple and other hardware companies, Amazon declines to say exactly how many units of its Kindle it has sold.

Now with the "millions" number, Amazon has gotten more specific, but its Kindle sales numbers are still something of a guessing game. Amazon's press release, while seeming to announce sales figures, leaves analysts chasing tea leaves. It says:

  • Throughout December, customers purchased well over 1 million Kindle devices per week.
  • The new Kindle family held the top three spots on the Amazon.com best seller charts – #1: Kindle Fire, #2: Kindle Touch, #3: Kindle.
  • Kindle Fire is the #1 best-selling, most gifted, and most wished for product across the millions of items available on Amazon.com since its introduction 13 weeks ago.

It's hard to say exactly how well the Kindle Fire tablet is selling. The more-than-a-million-per-week sales figure is not just the Kindle Fire; it includes all the Kindle e-readers, some of which sell for as low as $79.

On the heels of Kindle sales news earlier this month, Jared Newman wrote at PC World:

The company didn't break down sales by device, so we don't know how many Kindle Fires have been sold compared to Kindle e-readers. (Amazon's Kindle Vice President Dave Limp says the Fire is "the most successful product we've ever launched.")

And we still have no idea how many Kindles have been sold to date, or how many have been sold since the latest generation of devices went on sale. I don't think those are accidents or oversights. The company probably wants to avoid direct comparisons between the Kindle Fire and Apple's iPad, whose sales have been mighty compared to other tablets so far. To date, Apple has sold more than 40 million iPads, and the original iPad sold two million units in its first 60 days.

Trying to put those numbers together, Kindle Fire tablet sales might just be competitive with Apple's iPad. But until Amazon releases actual sales numbers, we really can't say.

RELATED:

Amazon updates Kindle Fire operating system

Amazon now sells more Kindle e-books than print books

Amazon's Kindle Fire, new e-readers target low-cost market

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Amazon's Kindle, Kindle Touch and Kindle Fire tablet. Credit: Amazon, for the individual images, Collage, Carolyn Kellogg

 
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