TechCrunch recently reported that “240,000 Kindles have been shipped since November, according to a source close to Amazon with direct knowledge of the numbers.” It’s not official, but it’s better than nothing. As a number 240,000 isn’t bad, but it’s tough to tell if it’s good either.
The Kindle launched in late November of 2007 and in five and a half hours sold out, finally going back on sale in late April. So we’re looking at pent up demand and holiday shopping for the launch and then a three month window of more traditional sales. The real viability of Kindle is in traditional sales volume. Therefore, the distribution of that 240,000 between these months is critical.
Did they sell 100,000 that first day and then 140,000 over the next three months? Or was it 30,000 the first day and then 210,000 over the next three months? What is the unit sales trend between May, June and July? Is it accelerating or decreasing? Answers to these questions would help us put the 240,000 figure into proper context.
Again, the 240,000 figure isn’t bad, yet should we really be surprised?
The iPod in particular and hand held devices in general all helped pave the way for a greater acceptance of Kindle. It had the wind at its back, allowing it to tap the innovator and early adopter market with relative ease. So, in some ways you might expect that Kindle should have a better adoption curve. However, let’s face it, books and reading don’t (sadly) have the same market potential as music.
Let’s also figure in the high promotion Amazon has and continues to put behind Kindle. It is regularly featured on the Amazon home page. As a site, Amazon gets approximately 50 million unique visitors a month. Even if only a third see the home page, this means 15+ million people are getting the Kindle pitch each month via the website. Never mind the emails (of which I’ve received two in the last week.)
Assume the best case scenario of 210,000 sold in the three month traditional window with no deceleration. This means 70,000 Kindles sold each month from the 15 million views. The result is a nearly half percent conversion rate. This isn’t half bad in my opinion.
However, the numbers go sideways in a hurry if you choose to use the 50 million number instead of 15 million, or add in additional promotion and reach via affiliates. Then there’s the distribution of the 240,000. If only 140,000 were sold in those three months, then the 70,000 figure drops precipitously.
So, is 240,000 a good number? Time (and disclosure) will tell.