Quidditch World Cup – District 12 vs. Hogwarts

On Friday, Amazon.com announced that the Hunger Games trilogy has eclipsed the Harry Potter books, taking into consideration print and Kindle book sales combined, to become the best selling series at their online store.

The Boy Who Lived vs. The Girl Who Volunteered

Kate Sullivan from the NY Daily News stated in her article that “the numbers include print and eBook sales, making this achievement all the more notable, as it has taken [Suzanne] Collins’ series only four years and three books to achieve land in the first spot for Amazon, as opposed to fifteen years and seven books for Rowling’s the Boy Who Lived.”

“Since debuting in 2008, Katniss Everdeen and the Hunger Games have taken the world by storm, much as Harry Potter did a decade before,” said Sara Nelson, the editorial director of books and Kindle at Amazon, which is the largest bookseller in the United States.

“Interestingly, this series is only three books versus Harry Potter’s seven, and to achieve this result in just four years is a great testament to both the popularity of the work and, we think, the growth in reading digitally during that time,” she said.

The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth – Or So I Think

To be fair, the Harry Potter series has only been available as e-books for the last 5 months. Amazon’s assessment should have been based on sales excluding e-book sales. Especially when you consider that Amazon doesn’t even sell the Potter e-books. To acquire them you are redirected to Pottermore, JK Rowling’s website, to purchase the e-books. The exclusion of e-book sales would have provided a more effective evaluation on the comparative sales and placement of these two series.

What Do You Mean You Haven’t Read Them?

Both series are wonderful, exciting and suspenseful. If you haven’t read these, you really should. If you really don’t want too, consider gifting them to someone you love. A friend of mine gifted me with the Harry Potter series and I will be forever grateful to her.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Price: $18.99.

The Complete Harry Potter Collection by J.K. Rowling. Price: $57.54.

Amazon Press Release

Kindle Phone? Amazon Developing Kindle Smartphone

Reports that originally surfaced last year are starting to take shape regarding Amazon’s development of a smartphone (Kindle Phone perhaps? Bonfire? Firecracker? Glowworm?) that will be offered to the public this coming November — just in time for Christmas sales. Amazon is reportedly working with Foxconn International, a Chinese mobile phone producer, to develop this Kindle phone. Rumors suggest that Kindle Phone will, in all probability, use Amazon’s own version of the Android OS.

Kindle Phone and Patents

Amazon needs to obtain the correct patents covering wireless technology to build a defensible device. They also need to avoid both time-consuming and costly lawsuits alleging illegal use of technology. To do this, Amazon recently hired Matt Gordon, the former senior director of acquisitions at Intellectual Ventures Management LLC. A quick look at Matt Gordon’s Linked In profile shows his current position as “General Manager, Patent Acquisitions and Investments at Amazon”.

While it might seem to be a big jump (going from Kindle e-readers to Kindle smartphones), closer inspection shows that the gap isn’t as wide as one would think. Amazon already has the foundations in place to make money from a smartphone. It has its own re-skinned version of the Android OS, an app store and marketplaces brimming with content.

Most importantly, it has brand loyalty amongst its consumers. Amazon customers trust Amazon.

Kindle Phone is part of a gradual shift to Amazon devices

Amazon is fairly new to the world of devices, starting with the release of the first Kindle in 2007 and building up to the Kindle Fire last year. Its success (moderate, but success nonetheless) in the tablet market has been the result of it getting in early and keeping prices low. The revenue Amazon expects to generate from content sales, including eBooks and movies and music, allows it to price Kindle Fire and Kindle lower than it otherwise would/could. Add on the sales Kindle owners and Kindle Fire owners make at Amazon.com (kitchen sink, meet big screen television) and we have quite a good setup for Amazon.

Of course, with a Kindle smartphone Amazon would be dealing with beasts of an entirely different kind. Wireless Carriers. While Amazon has been selling smartphones through the Amazon Wireless site, actually dealing with wireless carriers and getting them to push its own Kindle Phone will be an entirely different proposition.

The question is – Will Amazon go the traditional route? Will it perhaps become a Carrier itself? Will it purchase wireless service from the major carriers and bundle it with Kindle Phones like it currently does with the eInk Kindles?

Kindle Phone will arrive in a very saturated market

The market is already saturated with successful smartphone competitors. In the first quarter of 2012, Samsung and Apple together shipped out 77.3 million smartphones worldwide, according to the research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). Predictions from IDC last month revealed that cell phone shipments will reach 1.8 billion this year.

Is there room for Amazon? It seems like David taking on Goliath. David seems to be prepared — but it’s one heck of a battle.

While IDC says that smartphone growth will continue at a substantial rate for the next 5 years, they also see that 2012 will be the year that begins a major shift away from the Android and iOS and towards Microsoft‘s up and coming Windows Phone platform.

It will be interesting to watch the unveiling of the new Amazon Kindle Smartphone. I am also very curious as to what they will call the Kindle phone. Perhaps the Amazonian?

End note: Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Amazon, was asked about the Kindle Phone. He got visibly upset, gestured to the heavens, and claimed that no such thing existed. Then his phone rang, he pulled out his 4.7″ Kindle Phone, and he told his wife he’d be home for dinner as soon as these reporters stop asking him crazy questions.

CNN on Kindle Phone Rumors

Bloomberr on Kindle Phone

BGR on Phone Sales Projections

Kindle Fire, Kindle arriving at 16,000 retail locations including WalMart

Kindle Fire and Kindle will be arriving at a staggering 16,000 retail locations starting on November 15th.

Stores include – Best Buy, WalMart, Target, Staples, Sam’s Club, RadioShack, Office Depot.

It’s all very puzzling.

The Madness of the Retailers?

It’s absolutely inexplicable to me that stores like Best Buy and Target and WalMart would sell Kindles and accelerate their own demise. Do they not realize that Kindle Fire is a direct connection to Amazon.com? That Kindle and Special Offers will end up eroding the sales of the retail stores?

With B&N we can rationalize that perhaps all these retail stores can’t think that far ahead. However, with Amazon – it should be obvious what’s happening.

Here’s what BestBuy’s senior VP says –

“We are excited to work with Amazon to provide consumers the opportunity to touch, test, try to buy the Kindle Fire in all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile stores nationwide,” said Wendy Fritz, senior vice president of Computing at Best Buy. “The Kindle Fire and other new products in the Kindle family will be some of the hottest gifts this holiday season and we are delighted to offer these devices as part of our ever-expanding tablet and e-reader selection at Best Buy.”

She might as well say –

We are getting tired of selling all these electronics. So we though we should let Amazon get a direct connection to our customers and shift them over to buying from Amazon.com.

The strangest store on the list is WalMart.

Isn’t WalMart supposed to be Amazon’s mortal enemy?

My understanding was that WalMart sees Amazon as a major threat and has started WalMart.com in part to address this threat.

Why then, is WalMart strengthening Amazon?

WalMart is literally selling its customers mini-Amazon stores. That its customers will carry everywhere with them. It’s incredibly shortsighted and hard to believe.

Target’s One-Stop-Shop Strategy

The irony –

“Target is offering the new family of Kindle devices, including the Kindle Fire, to ensure Target is a convenient one-stop-shop for all of the season’s must-have gifts,” said Nik Nayar, vice president merchandising, Target.

Target wants to ensure its the one-stop-shop. So, what does it do? It starts selling its customers mini-Amazon Stores that will, in future years, be the one-stop-shop for these customers.

How is all of this not painfully obvious?

Perhaps there’s something I’ve missed.

How does it help retail stores to build up Amazon? How does it help them to accelerate the trend to online and mobile shopping? Are they really not concerned that people will start doing their shopping through Kindle Fires and at Amazon.com?

It makes zero sense. To sell some extra devices this holiday season, all these retail stores are going to sell away their customers to their most dangerous competitor?