Amazon likes to put out constant press releases full of meaningless nonsense – Amazon sold more Kindle Fire HDs than it sold ice cream cones and bubble wrap combined.
These are mostly misdirection. Not to mention a sort of calculated vagueness. To take advantage of the human need to avoid uncertainty and fill it in with guesses and estimates – something which is probably amplified in journalists and stock analysts to the point of borderline madness.
Let’s look at ways to estimate Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD sales – both qualitatively and quantitatively.
Kindle Fire Sales Estimates & Kindle Fire HD Sales Estimates based on Reviews
This is actually a very good way to guess. The only missing thing is what ratio we assume exists between Kindle Fires bought and reviews left.
We currently have:
- 4,438 reviews left for the Kindle Fire 2. If we assume the usual 1,000: 1 ratio between Sales and Reviews we are talking about 4.4 million Kindle Fire 2s sold. However, the ratio is different for higher priced devices and even higher for devices that create strong likes and dislikes. So a ratio of 500: 1 is more appropriate. That would give us 2.2 million Kindle Fire 2s sold. This seems more like the top end. The Kindle Fire 2 probably sold 1.75 million to 2.2 million units.
- 5,537 Kindle Fire HD reviews. Again, let’s go with the 500:1 ratio and that gives us 2.75 million Kindle Fire HDs sold. If we assume that a $199 device would get reviews slightly more often, we end up with a range of 2 million to 2.75 million Kindle Fire HDs sold.
- 1,609 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ reviews suggest that between 500,000 and 800,000 of these were sold. Again, we are assuming that the higher up the price the more likely the purchaser is to leave a review.
This gives us the following estimates – 1.75 million to 2.2 million Kindle Fire 2s were sold; 2 million to 2.75 million Kindle Fire HDs were sold; Half a million to 800,000 Kindle Fire HD 8.9″s were sold.
Total Kindle Fire Sales: Between 4.25 million and 5.75 million.
Reliability of this Method: Close to Zero.
While this method seems absolutely crazy, it’s a really good one in the absence of any hard figures. Anyone who sells books or products through Amazon can confirm it for you. Depending on your price and quality you will see 1 review per 250 sales to 1 review per 1,000 sales.
Kindle Fire Sales Estimates & Kindle Fire HD Sales Estimates based on Browsing Share Among Tablets
This is actually the absolute worst method. Why?
- Different Tablets are used in different ways and bought for different reasons.
- Different Tablets vary wildly in how good they are for browsing.
- Measuring Browser Share among Tablets based on one company’s figures (even if it is an advertising company) is very vulnerable to pre-selection bias. The networks usually pre-select users in ways that tilt it towards different devices.
That being said, a recent survey by Chitika showed that for every 100 iPad impressions there were 4.88 Kindle Fire impressions.
If we assume this study is right, and if we assume that iPad users are twice as likely to use the iPad for browsing, then we get that for every 100 iPads sold there have been 9.76 Kindle Fires sold.
Total iPad Sales to Date – Perhaps around 112 million iPads sold.
Total Kindle Fire Sales to Date – Perhaps around 10.9 million.
Since we know neither Kindle Fire sales figures, nor Kindle Fire 2 sales figures, it becomes an exercise in futility. So, let’s just assume that the sales are split as either 5.9 million and 5 million OR as 6.9 million and 4 million.
Which gives us: Kindle Fire 2 and Kindle Fire HD have sold between 4 million and 5 million units to date.
Reliability of this Method: Zero.
Kindle Fire Sales Estimates based on Various Data Points
Let’s assume (you’ll see a lot of that – baseless assumptions) that Amazon sold 3 million Kindle Fires during last year’s holiday season. That it sold a further 2 million Kindle Fires until the launch of the Kindle Fire 2 and Kindle Fire HD.
Let’s assume that Amazon was ambitious and assumed that it would sell 10 million to 15 million of the new Kindle Fires (as opposed to 5 million of the first Kindle Fire 1 in its first year of existence).
That would give us stock of 5 to 7.5 million for this holiday season. We saw a few things that I personally haven’t seen Amazon do –
- A massive $50 off sale on Kindle Fire 2.
- A massive $50 off sale on Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.
Amazon has not, to the best of my knowledge, done a big sale on new models. Please keep in mind that these new models are ALREADY at a huge price discount compared to iPads.
So, Amazon must not be meeting its sales projections, for it to take such drastic measures.
Finally, let’s add-on the fact that WalMart and Target stopped stocking Kindle Fires this year – right before Holiday Season.
All of this suggests that Amazon probably was not meeting its sales goals of 5 million to 7.5 million Kindle Fires this holiday season and had to do special promotions to get closer.
Which gives us: 3 million to 4 million Kindle Fire 2s and Kindle Fire HDs sold.
Reliability: Close to Zero. However, a $50 off sale on a device that already undercuts the competition by around $200 is very, very telling.
B&N did lots of $20 off sales on its $269 Nook HD+ and also did a $70 off sale at Staples for one day. Combine this with the rumors that iPad Mini cut into iPad sales. We add these data-points to the Kindle Fire fire sales and we get a picture of a Tablet world dominated by iPad Minis. A scenario that hurts everyone (including Apple, since iPad Minis perhaps make 1/4th the per-unit profit of the iPhone and 1/2 the per-unit profit of the iPad (estimates)).
Kindle Fire Sales Estimates, Kindle Fire HD Sales Estimates based on Google Traffic Trends
Right off the bat let’s point out that interest doesn’t indicate intent, and intent doesn’t indicate a sale. Additionally, users would also have been searching for other gifts (instead of Tablets) and for Tablet comparisons.
So, even if Tablet 1 sees as many searches as Tablet 2, it might sell far less if Tablet 2 comes across as a much better choice.
Here are data points from a few searches:
- If we compare ‘kindle’ with ‘kindle fire’ with ‘ipad’ with ‘ipad mini’, we get that iPad Mini interest was around three times that of Kindle Fire interest for most of November 2012. Then it was around 40% more in December (except for 3 or so days when interest was equal). iPad interest was a steady 4 to 5 times that of Kindle interest. Nook interest was 40% to 60% that of Kindle Fire (which makes sense given that B&N said sales will miss projections). Note: Comparing 2 letter keywords with 1 letter keywords is VERY inefficient. So anyone who compares ‘kindle’ searches with ‘ipad mini’ searches, their analysis should be taken with a pinch of salt (as should this post).
- The Chart comparing ‘Kindle Fire’ and ‘iPad Mini’ searches is very telling. Apart from Christmas Day, and one or two days in early December (perhaps during the $50 off sale), the interest in iPad Mini is 2 to 3 times the interest in Kindle Fire in November and 1.75 to 2 times in December. Combine this with iPad having 4 to 5 times the amount of interest Kindle has, and we can derive some interesting conclusions.
If we assume iPad Mini sold 2 times Kindle Fire we’d get figures like 15 million iPad Mini sales and 7.5 million Kindle Fire sales. However, we also have to factor in 4 times more interest in iPad than in Kindle.
That suggests we might have a 3:1 ratio between iPad Mini sales and Kindle Fire sales.
Which gives us: 5 million Kindle Fire sales (assuming 15 million iPad Mini sales).
Reliability: Close to Zero.
Why is it that all methods give us a range of 4 million to 5 million Kindle Fires sold?
Here are our estimates –
- Reviews – 4.25 million to 5.75 million Kindle Fires and Kindle Fire HDs sold.
- Tablet Browser Share – 4 million to 5 million Kindle Fires and Kindle Fire HDs sold.
- Various Data Points like Firesales – 3 million to 4 million Kindle Fires and Kindle Fire HDs sold.
- Google Traffic Trends: 5 million Kindle Fires sold.
If we throw out (or average out) the two outlier ranges (5 million to 5.75 million; 3 million to 4 million) we get an extremely tight range – 4 million to 5 million Kindle Fires and Kindle Fire HDs sold so far. With the highest likelihood being a figure of around 4.7 million.
Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD Sales Estimates: 4 million to 5 million devices.
Reliability: Close to Zero. However, all these methods giving us such a tight range (3 million to 5.75 million) increases our chances of being right from 5% to 20%. They suggest that Amazon did indeed sell around 4.7 million Kindle Fires and Kindle Fire HDs.