Christmas is the prime gadget buying season in the US, but not everyone is feeling the joy. Based on what Amazon didn't say in yesterday's press release, I have a strong feeling that Barnes & Noble wasn't the only ereader maker who had disappointing sales this holiday season.
Amazon is like pretty much any business. They like to boast about the good news and avoid mentioning the bad. They don't often get into specific details about things like Kindle hardware sales, but they usually make at least a vague statement of some kind.
For the past 3 years Amazon has posted a press release in late December which boasted about how great Kindle sales were. Each year the statements lauding the Kindle got more and more colorful, with Amazon saying that sales were better and better.
Until this year, when Amazon didn't say anything. Oh, there was a press release and it did say things like:
Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle hold the top four spots on the Amazon worldwide best seller charts since launch.
But Amazon said that last year and the year before, so it doesn't mean much. No, the important detail here is what Amazon didn't say.
They didn't say that this was the best year ever for hardware sales. A similar statement was in the 2010 and 2011 press release, but not the press release that came out yesterday. In fact, the older press releases led with the boast about sales. Do you recall the million Kindles sold each week claim? That's what Amazon said last year, but they didn't say anything like that this year.
I know that this is awfully thin evidence, but don't you think Amazon would have boasted about sales if they could have? I certainly would have done so.
Assuming I am right, what impact do you think this will have on the ereader market? Could this drop in sales cause Amazon to cut back on developing new hardware? I could see them delaying ereader releases, sure; the adoption rate for ereaders has plateaued here in the US, so it might make sense for Amazon to sell their current models to the rest of the world rather than spend lots of money finding something new.