Early on, analysts were guessing that the Kindle had about 5 million sales in its 2010 future. Overall, an impressive gain after Amazon(NASDAQ:AMZN) managed about 2.4 million last year (according to anonymous report since Amazon doesn’t disclose sales figures on this). Current estimates, however, have the projection set at an even more impressive 8 million units by year’s end. We obviously knew things were going well when we heard in October that the new Kindle, only released in July, was already outselling last year’s fourth quarter Kindle figures by a noticeable amount, but the numbers are even more exceptional than anticipated.
It’s been an interesting year for eReaders in general. The Kindle‘s chief competition, the Nook, went color(perhaps prematurely, perhaps not, depending on your point of view), the iPad has successfully carved a huge place for itself in the portable computing marketplace and paved the way for an entire Tablet PC industry in the process, and eBooks have become so commonplace that it is actually harder to find something with a screen that you can’t read on than it is to find a way to read your new book. There was some concern expressed, quite loudly at times, that the stand-alone eReader was a thing of the past with the coming of the tablet PC and the Kindle vs iPad debates. Some people were convinced that two such devices couldn’t coexist. This has obviously not panned out, in spite of Apple’s impressive sales figures since the April debut of the iPad. It seems clear that the demand is only going to grow for some time yet. As for the Nook Color, time will tell. It’s certainly a neat addition, even if some see it as less than ideal for its primary purpose, and given how great the Kindle vs Nook competition was as a spur for development in the eReader marketplace, we can hope that it will do at least well enough to stay in the game.
What makes this whole trend even more useful for Amazon is that the Kindle isn’t their only means of distribution. Even for those who don’t see a use in having something quite so narrowly focussed, you can’t avoid seeing the Kindle App line coming up wherever you need it. Projections put annual sales of eBooks at 2.8 billion dollars within the next five years, according to analysts. Right now, it looks like the biggest slice of that is heading through Amazon, whether to Kindle owners or not. While the format might not be what some people would prefer, Amazon choosing not to support the popular EPUB standard, this makes Kindle Editions one of the safest ways to be certain of your eBook purchasing. It’s just that little bit of extra reassurance if you know that you never have to worry about losing your files over a hardware crash or wrongly deleted folder, right?
Basically, an all around great year for both the Kindle and the eBook industry in general. Hopefully projections bear out and we have even more to look forward to in the near future. Reading’s never been so convenient or accessible.