Jason Del Rey

Recent Posts by Jason Del Rey

The Amazon Kindle Numbers That Jeff Bezos Must Really Care About

jeff bezos with Kindle Fire HDX

We all know that Amazon’s annual touting of its new Kindles as the best-selling Kindles ever has become laughable since the company doesn’t provide any sales figures to back up its claims.

But a recent analysis of survey data by research firm Consumer Intelligence Research Partners shows that maybe, just maybe, there are other Kindle-related figures that are just as critical to Amazon, if not more so.

First, at a high level, CIRP estimates that 20.5 million Kindles — e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets combined — are currently in use in the U.S., and that 40 percent of Amazon.com’s customers own one of the devices.

But spending data among Kindle owners is the really interesting stuff.

CIRP conducted a survey of 300 Amazon.com customers over the three months leading up to Nov. 15 and found, perhaps not all that surprisingly, that people who own Kindles spend more on Amazon than those who don’t.

But the size of the disparity is pretty astounding.

Based on its research and analysis, CIRP estimates that Kindle owners spend $1,233 per year on Amazon compared to $790 per year for Amazon shoppers who don’t own one of the company’s e-readers or tablets. Kindle owners aren’t necessarily buying more at a shot, but are buying more frequently.

“Another way to look at Kindle Fire and Kindle e-Reader is as a portal to Amazon.com,” CIRP’s Mike Levin said in a statement. “Kindle Fire provides access to everything Amazon sells, while Kindle e-Reader has become the way that Amazon customers buy books, Amazon’s original product line.”

On the surface, at least, one could make the argument then that Amazon could potentially drop prices on the devices to get them into the hands of more people, since they become more valuable customers. But, drop prices too far and you may attract a different set of customers that may cause that spending disparity to shrink.

“[W]e’ve joked that they should pay us to use it given how it’s more than just another competing tablet in a crowded marketplace,” Levin said in an email to AllThingsD. “Of course, charging for a Kindle does help Amazon identify the most promising customers.”


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald