Kindle “Still Too Expensive for Mass Acceptance”

Amazon Kindle product description and specificationThat’s what analyst Steve Weinstein of Portland’s Pacific Crest told the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that Amazon has sold around 40,000 units so far this year and could sell between 700,000 – 800,000 by the end of 2008 hitting $2.5 billion in sales by 2012.

Considering that Apple sold 376,000 iPod units in its first year, the numbers look promising, that’s considering you believe Mr Weinstein’s numbers – we think his numbers are highly inflated and Mark Mahaney’s figures are more realistic. But that’s not the interesting part of Steve Weinstein’s analysis, he goes on to say that Kindle wont have the same impact on the industry as the iPod had on the music industry, – I think we can all agree on that – one reason being that that price of the Kindle, currently at $359, is too expensive for mass acceptance. Is $359 too expensive? what we have got to remember is that Kindle is the first generation device, and prices will inevitably drop.

Tim McCall, VP of sales at Penguin Group USA said “We see it as an incremental change” suggesting that the Kindle is a catalyst in an overall move towards an e-book distribution model for the industry. Tim McCall added “It’s certainly a device that has energized the digitization of books”.

Is the Kindle too expensive for mass acceptance? what do you think:

$750 million a year estimate wildly off the mark?

Mark Mahaney is the Citigroup analyst who last week made the assessment that by 2010 Amazon will be earning $750 million in revenue from the Kindle, which would account for 3% of Amazon’s total revenue. He also estimates that Amazon would shift between 189,000 – 600,000 units by the end of the year, growing to 2.2 million units by 2010. Some would argue these are very bullish estimates with good reason, and some would argue that Mark Mahaney is smoking crack, Scott Berry is one of those people who claims the latter.

This is what Scott Berry thinks:

Citi’s Mahaney has even gone so far as to suggest 3% of Amazon’s revenue (about $750M) will come from Kindles within 2 years. Worse yet, he assumes a sales ramp roughly half of the original iPod. Frankly, he’s smoking crack.

If Eliot Spitzer hadn’t brought an end to the practice some years ago (cough, cough), I’d almost think these two were trying to drum up business for their investment banks. Instead it’s probably something much more innocent, like say pumping the stock for the traders.

Strong comments indeed, lets take a look at the reasons why Scott Berry thinks like this:

Think about it: what problem is the e-book solving for consumers?

  1. Gee, if only my book was portable, I could take it with me…
  2. Pushing a button to bookmark my place is SO much easier than bending a page corner.
  3. Those nasty paper cuts.
  4. I can take my whole library with me. (Sure, I often read 10 books at a time. And I wish I could read fast enough to finish several books on a long flight.)
  5. I can download a new book whenever I need one. (Yep. And how long does that take over a pokey wireless link? EVDO isn’t everywhere. And can I read the first page while the rest is downloading?)
  6. It’s cheaper. (True, true. Unless you want to read blogs at $2/week or newspaper feeds at $15/month. That’s a lot to pay for portability.)

The first three points are quite sarcastic, and don’t add to his argument – I don’t think Scott Berry understands the concept behind the ebook. Point 4 sounds like a positive thing to me. Point 5 brings into question whether Scott has even used a Kindle before? On point 6, he is right about the blogs and newspapers being overpriced, $2 a week for a blog feed and up to $15.99 a month for a newspaper subscription is a bit pricey, but I wouldn’t call these ‘problems’ with the e-book concept.

Scott Berry’s arguments boils down to this: He thinks the entire e-book concept is a dud and wont take off and form the sound of his argument it look like he hasn’t seen, let alone used a Kindle before. Berry hasn’t spoken to anyone who has owned a Kindle, if he had he would have noticed that the vast majority of Kindle owners actually love the device, and there are rave reviews up on the Kindle discussion forums. Even may critics changed their minds once they got their hands on the actual device. And I also think he’s missing the bigger picture, the fact that it is Amazon behind the Kindle, you know, one of the biggest book retailers on the planet.

In time we will find out who is right and who is wrong, I suspect it is going to be Mr. Berry.

Source: SeekingAlpha, Mobileread Forums

$750 Million in Kindle Sales by 2010

Mark Mahaney – an Internet Analyst at Citigroup Investment Research – is predicting that revenue generated by Amazon from the sale of Kindle’s will be between $400m – $750m by 2010. That would account for 1% – 3% of Amazon’s total revenue, about half the projected revenue would be from the sale of Kindle devices and the other half from book sales after purchase. However, revenue is not profit and we don’t know what the profit margins are on the Kindle device.

Read the full statement by Mark Mahaney/Citigroup Investment Research below:

How Is Kindle Doing So Far In The Marketplace?

Our ability to answer this question is very limited. Amazon is the sole retailer of the Kindle and it has disclosed no information about its sales other than to say that it sold out in the first 5 1⁄2 hours. But we have pieced together four different clues to gain a sense of Kindle’s traction.

First, we note that Kindle has consistently been ranked among Amazon’s Bestsellers in its Electronics category. Ahead of the Apple iPod Nano, the Garmin GPS Navigator, and the Canon Powershot Digital Camera.

Second, we note that the Kindle has received a very large number of customer reviews. Per the exhibit below, we note that Kindle has received more customer reviews than any of the other Top 10 Bestselling items in Amazon’s Electronics category – 2,537 reviews as of May 12th – vs. 663 for the Apple iPod Nano 4GB Silver (3G), the #2 Bestseller. This is in part an unfair comparison. Kindle is a new product sold only on, while there are numerous versions of the iPod, and they are sold by numerous retailers. But still, the volume of reviews does indicate material traction for the Kindle.

Third, we see that the quality/tone of the customer reviews the Kindle is receiving is relatively positive. Below we compare the Star Rating Diffusion – 5 Stars vs. 4 Stars vs. 3 Stars etc… – for each of the Top 10 Bestselling Electronics Items on Amazon. What we see is that the Kindle actually receives fewer high scores than the other Bestsellers – 69% of its reviews are 4 or 5 Stars vs. an average of 80% for the other items. And it receives more low scores than the other Bestsellers – 22% of its reviews are 1 or 2 Stars vs. an average of 13% for the other Items. But for a Version 1 of a product “competing” against a several times iterated leading consumer electronics item like the iPod, a 69% Star 4 or 5 rating is relatively positive.

And fourth, we note that the most reviewed Customer Review of Kindle (“Why and how the Kindle changes everything” by Steve “eBook Lover” Gibson) has been reviewed by at least 27,000 people. Specifically, as of May 13th, 26,931 have read Steve Gibson’s review and actually commented on it by pressing the Yes or No button when asked if the review was helpful. And logically, there would be more people who read the review and didn’t bother to vote, although the voting step is hyper-easy. We believe that this helps provide something of a proxy for how many Kindles have likely been sold. We’d peg the number as somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 Kindles sold to date.

The numbers look about right to us, what do you guys think?

For Amazon to hit the $750 million in sales figure a few assumption have to be made. The figures are based on the assumption that sales will grow from 189,000 units by the end of 2008 then to 2.2 million units by 2010 and that Amazon will drop the price to about $300.

Source: Silicon Ally Insider