Thursday, April 24, 2008

Approximately 210,000 Kindles Sold So Far

While Amazon won't release numbers, an enterprising commenter on Engadget comes to this conclusion based on data released by Amazon's e-ink manufacturer.

The Taiwan-based company said its current monthly shipments of 6-inch EDP modules, priced at US$70-80 each, amount to 60,000-80,000 units, with 60% going to Amazon and 40% to Sony.
60% of 60,000 units * 6 months since release = 216,000 units sold.

Update: TechCrunch points to a Citigroup analyst who puts the number at 10,000-30,000.

Update 2: TechCrunch is now posting that a source close to Amazon with direct knowledge of the numbers puts the number sold by 8/1/08 at 240,000.

I had asked this question a while back using Amazon's NowNow feature on my Kindle and while I didn't get a number, I found the response so amusing that I share it with you now:
We don't know and I'm answering this question at some risk

We're not allowed to answer Kindle customer service questions (see below), but I think this is actually more of a research question so I'll risk giving you the answer. We get this question a lot, especially after a new batch of Kindles seems to go out. I think people are worried that maybe they haven't made a good investment. Unfortunately, we have no idea how many Kindles have been sold. Amazon hasn't made that information public and we don't have any insider information on the subject, primarily because we're not insiders. I've read some funny things online on how the people at NowNow refuse to answer this question. We don't refuse, we simply don't know the answer. Nobody outside of Amazon's corporate offices knows the answer. And yet this question gets asked ten times a day.

Maybe a little insight into how NowNow works might make this clearer to you. We're not Amazon employees. NowNow isn't really "staffed" at all. Anyone can answer questions through the Mechanical Turk service:

http://www.mturk.com/

This is basically a contest. They pay us three cents per answer, which is essentially nothing. But every time we receive a great answer vote it counts towards a chance of winning a weekly bonus. Good, insufficient, and junk don't count for anything, just great votes. The person with the most greats at the end of the week earns $100, second most earns $97, and so on in $3 increments for the top 30 workers.

It used to be a very good deal. But now thanks to the Kindle the workload has grown tremendously. The amount of work required to finish on top is ridiculous because most people don't vote at all or unwittingly give out good votes not realizing that they're worthless to the workers. This now pays well below minimum wage and the result is that many, many questions go unanswered.

And of course, we don't know Jeff Bezos' phone number, email address, etc. In fact, the Kindle Team tends to ignore emails we send them asking for more information on how the Kindle works and its features. So it should come as no surprise that they're not releasing sales figures to us.

In addition to all the above, the people from NowNow sent us an email recently forbidding us from answering Kindle customer service questions. Here's what it says:

"We appreciated that some of you have tried to answer Kindle customer support questions, but we have decided it is more appropriate that our own Amazon customer service support these users to ensure they have a great experience. Therefore, please do not work on any HITs for "NowNow Research Question for $1695 Weekly Reward. " that could be Kindle customer support questions. If you submit a HIT on any Kindle customer support question, we will be forced to ban you from working on future NowNow research questions."

Honestly, I don't know that any of us really wanted to be the lowest-paid Kindle tech support people out there, but we've spent a couple of months learning all we can about the Kindle and probably know just as much if not more than the actual tech support people. So some of us are pretty unhappy about the way NowNow has decided to treat us and you, the end-users. But since what constitutes a "customer support question" is kind of vague, I think it's okay to answer this one - although there's still a chance I'll get banned for explaining this to you.
Needless to say, I gave this person a "great answer" vote.

3 comments:

Kev said...

From what I recall, there was a month-long period (Feb.) without any Kindle shipments. This was probably due to the snowstorms in China and/or the week-long Chinese New Year holiday. While not meaningful in the long run, it's probably worth noting.

I'm actually more intrigued by Jeff Bezos' pleading regarding the Kindle, since it became commonly available. His shareholder letter and today's front-page note on Amazon come to mind.

Anonymous said...

If you want to know how many Kindles have been sold, talk to the folks at Sprint Wireless. I'm sure they've got the numbers since they need to be negotiated up-front with forecasts and so on (well, perhaps its not THAT important, given sprints wireless losses vs. kindles sales).

Fat Knowledge said...

Kev,

Good point on the snowstorms. But, I wonder if it stopped production in the plants, or just stopped their ability to ship them to the US.

It is also possible that they produced some before the original sales date which wouldn't be in my calculation either.

Anon,

Unfortunately I don't know anyone at Sprint who would be willing to share that information with me. :)

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