Kindle WiFi sold out for Christmas, Kindle 3 available

The Kindle 3G is the only Kindle available in time for Christmas. The Kindle WiFi is experiencing 3 to 5 day delays, which means it is sold out for Christmas.

Thanks to Peter for the update.

Here’s what Amazon’s Kindle WiFi page says –

Expected to ship in 3 to 5 days.

Ordering for Christmas? Due to overwhelming customer demand, Kindle (Wi-Fi) is temporarily out of stock. Orders placed today will arrive after December 24th.

Order now to reserve your place in line. Our Kindle 3G for $189 is still available in time for Christmas.

Well, selling out around a week before Christmas isn’t terribly bad. It could have been much worse.

It does mean that people looking to buy Kindles will either have to buy the Kindle 3G, or they will have to patiently wait past Christmas to get their Kindle WiFi.

Was Kindle WiFi selling a lot more than Kindle 3G?

It seems plausible that Amazon was either producing more Kindle WiFis than Kindle 3s, or that it was producing equal quantities of both. If either was the case, it would mean Kindle WiFi was selling much faster than Kindle 3.

Given the $139 price of the Kindle WiFi, it shouldn’t be a big surprise that it was selling faster, that it sold out before the Kindle 3, and that it sold out a week before Christmas.

It makes Amazon’s decision, to limit Kindle sales to the US and UK, seem a smart one – If Kindle WiFi and/or Kindle 3 had sold out at the end of November, that would have meant more Nook WiFi sales and more Nook sales. It does, however, make you wonder why Amazon recently changed its limit on Kindle sales per person from 3 to 5. That must have contributed to the sell-out.

The Kindle 3, in both white and graphite variants, is very much in stock. Amazon states on the page that orders placed today will arrive on or before December 24th. That’s definitely your best option if you’re looking to buy a Kindle for Christmas.

Kindle Christmas sell-out – Kindle missing Christmas except in US, UK

It seems likely the Kindle 3 is going to be out of stock this Christmas.

Kindle Christmas sell-outs aren’t unusual – The Kindle was sold out for Christmas 2007 and Christmas 2008 with delays of weeks and even months. 2009 was the only year that the Kindle was available all through Christmas Season.

Will Kindle be in stock for Christmas 2010?

Well, it’s November 17th, 2010 and the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi are already sold out if you live outside the US and UK.

Kindle Christmas Availability – Only available in US and UK

  1. Kindle 3, WiFi if you live in the US – In Stock.
  2. Kindle 3, WiFi if you live in the UK – In Stock.
  3. If you live in any other country – ‘Expected to ship in 2 to 3 months’.

You aren’t getting a Kindle for Christmas if you don’t live in the US or UK.

You have to wonder what’s causing Amazon to specify 2 to 3 month delays outside of its two biggest markets. More importantly, it probably means that US and UK are in danger of being sold out of Kindles in the near-future.

Will Kindle be out of stock this Christmas?

There are a bunch of different things to factor in –

  1. Kindle is being sold in both US and UK.
  2. Holiday season always has HUGE demand.
  3. 2009 is the only year Kindles were in stock during holiday season. 2007 and 2008 both saw Kindle being sold out for weeks or even months.
  4. Kindle WiFi at $139 is really, really cheap. It might get cheaper.
  5. Kindles are available in stores for the first time – Best Buy, Staples, and Target. In the UK Kindles are available at John Lewis.
  6. Amazon is doing a lot of TV advertising.
  7. eReaders are #2 or #3 on most Christmas wishlists and much cheaper than the #1 and #2 items (Tablets and Laptops). A $139 Kindle will beat out a $475 laptop more often than not.
  8. Amazon is going to add Nook-style lending by end of 2010. Combined with all the other Kindle 3, WiFi features it makes Kindle a very compelling proposition.
  9. Sony Readers are priced too high to compete and B&N has gone into the ‘color reading tablet’ niche. Kindle has eInk reading all to itself.

Already, the first signs that all these factors might be affecting Kindle availability are showing up –

  • Amazon now has a 3 Kindles per customer limit. If you want more you have to email them. This is for Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi only.
  • The International Kindle page shows 2 to 3 month delays. To see this just go to the Kindle page, scroll down to the country selection drop-down (it’s about 2 pages down), and choose a country other than the US. The delay is for both Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi.
  • Kindles are now available for Christmas in only 2 countries – US and UK. 150+ countries miss out.

In effect Amazon is saving up all the Kindles for the US and UK markets. However, if Kindles are selling so fast that Amazon has to block international sales for 2 to 3 months what’s the guarantee Kindle stock will hold up.

Will Kindle be in stock this Christmas?

Probably Not. If the rest of the world is sold out by November 17th, 2010 it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which US and UK will still have stock on December 25th, 2010.

If you’re planning to gift a Kindle for Christmas now is the time to pull the trigger.

Kindle 3 under threat due to poor retail availability, rival eReader offers

The Kindle 3 might be in for a very interesting holiday season.

On paper the holiday season seems like it should be a cakewalk for the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi –

  1. B&N has gone with a color-screen Nook Color instead of releasing an eInk Pearl based Nook 2. 
  2. Sony has hidden behind its claim that its focusing on quality and not competing on price.
  3. There are hardly any worthy Android tablets.
  4. iPad hasn’t killed eReader sales.
  5. No strong, new eReader rivals have emerged and no eReaders with Pixel Qi or Mirasol or Color eInk screens have emerged.

Given these data points you have to wonder what could stop the Kindle 3 from taking an even more dominant market position.

Well, there are actually a few serious threats to the Kindle 3’s take-over of the eReader market this holiday season. Let’s take a look at a couple of the more worrying ones.

Kindle Retail Availability is still poor

Here’s a comment from a user who bought a Nook because he couldn’t find a Kindle –

… this made me decide to go with Kindle 3.  But they seem to treat this thing like tickets to a Hot Rock concert!  I would have to just about camp in front of the store to get one.

Well guess what.  I am not a teenager anymore and if you want me to buy your product, and you announce on the news that it is now sold at Target, Best Buy, Staples, etc. One of those stores better have it in All of Houston.

So I bought the Nook, even though I love to have the latest technology. 

The problem is actually much deeper than ‘being sold out’ in all of Houston –

  1. Firstly, Amazon is available at far less stores – Nook is now available at WalMart and lots of other places Kindle isn’t retailed.
  2. Secondly, Amazon doesn’t have its own physical stores – Both B&N and Sony have their own stores from which they can sell Nooks and Sony Readers directly to customers.
  3. Thirdly, Amazon doesn’t send out enough stock. There are numerous cases of people talking about not being able to find a Kindle 3 at their nearest Target.
  4. Fourthly, Amazon severely limits the demo units so you can’t test out wireless and a lot of the other Kindle 3 features.

So we’ve gone from ‘Kindle isn’t available in brick and mortar stores’ to ‘Kindle puts in a guest appearance at a few stores but is usually impossible to find’.   

Nook and Sony Reader continue to have a big advantage in retail availability – very few people are going to keep trying to find a Kindle in stores when they can test out a Nook or Sony Reader in person and get it instantly.

Rival eReader makers are cutting prices mercilessly

Thanks to Lucy S we know Best Buy will have Nook WiFi available for $100 for Black Friday. It’s just 10 units per store but it’ll still sell a lot of Nooks and give Nook a lot of free publicity.

Now, courtesy MobileRead, we find out about some very good deals on the latest Sony Readers.

Nov 15th Update: B&H Photo changed prices from $170 to $200 and $120 to $150 a day after this post first went out.

B&H Photo now has the Sony Reader PRS-650 for $200 and the Sony Reader PRS-350 for $150. It’s also offering free shipping. The offers last till the 27th of November and make the PRS-650 close to the price of a Kindle 3 and the PRS-350 close to the price of a Kindle WiFi.

Sony Readers are going to be on sale at the Sony Store from November 15th to November 27th – 

  1. Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS-350 will be $30 cheaper at $150 – that’s within shooting distance of the $139 Kindle WiFi.
  2. Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-650 will be $30 cheaper at $200 – which brings it very close to the $189 Kindle 3.
  3. Sony Reader Daily Edition PR-950 will be $50 cheaper at $250. That’s the same price as Nook Color and not bad for a 7″ eInk Pearl screen.

Like Nook 1 the Sony Readers support library books and ePub and unlike Nook 1 they sport eInk Pearl screens. They also have touch. The PRS-650 suddenly seems very tempting. For most of November Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi will no longer be the obvious eReader choice.

For the first time since Kindle 3 was released users will have to think twice about what eReader to get. At $170 and with library book support and touch support the Sony PRS-650 is suddenly a very dangerous Kindle 3 opponent.

What does Amazon need to do to make Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi the clear #1 choices again?

Well, it’s quite simple –

  1. Drop Kindle 3 to $170.
  2. Drop Kindle WiFi to $110.
  3. Expand retail availability. WalMart is probably not going to embrace Amazon but other stores might.
  4. Make sure there is enough retail availability.
  5. Let users try out Kindles properly – make sure demo units allow users to explore full Kindle functionality.

Nook and Sony Reader have gone from disinterested competitors that had little chance to threaten the Kindle 3 to surprise contenders that threaten to steal away eReader sales from the Kindle. Perhaps they have finally realized that if they let the Kindle 3 and Kindle WiFi run rampant this holiday season it might be the end of the eReader Wars.