Amazon likely to sell over 8 million Kindle, exceeding estimates
SAN FRANCISCO: Amazon.com Inc. is likely to sell more than 8 million Kindle electronic-book readers this year, at least 60 percent more than analysts have predicted, according to two people who are aware of the company's sales projections.
Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg estimated, on average, that the company would sell 5 million Kindles in 2010. Last year, Amazon sold about 2.4 million Kindles, said one of the people, who asked to remain anonymous because the company doesn't disclose Kindle sales figures.
Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is using the Kindle, unveiled in 2007, to expand into hardware and fuel digital book demand. The projections show Amazon is adding share in the e-reader market, where it vies with Sony Corp. and Barnes & Noble Inc., faster than predicted by analysts at Citigroup Inc. and at least five other securities or research firms.
Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Seattlebased Amazon, declined to comment.
Analysts at Citigroup, Barclays Capital, BGC Partners LP and ThinkEquity LLC have estimated that Amazon will sell about 5 million Kindles this year. Caris & Co. predicted 4.8 million, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. projected 4 million to 5 million.
Amazon's sales demonstrate that the market for stand-alone e-readers is growing even as Apple Inc. builds demand for the iPad tablet, which lets users read books, watch videos and carry out computing tasks. Apple, based in Cupertino, California, sold 7.46 million iPads from their April debut through September.
Shares of Amazon rose $1.46 to $184.75 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. They have gained 37 percent this year.
Amazon sells three versions of the Kindle. The $139 model downloads books, magazines and newspapers via Wi-Fi only. Another costs $189 and works over both Wi-Fi and 3G wireless networks. The larger Kindle DX costs $379.
Amazon has disclosed few details on Kindle sales. In October, the company said that sales of the lighter, faster Kindles, which were introduced in July, had surpassed total Kindle sales in the fourth quarter of 2009, the company's busiest time of year. Sony and Barnes & Noble don't disclose sales of their e-readers either.
At the same time that Kindle sales are accelerating, Amazon is shifting away from relying on a single family of devices to sell its e-books, according to Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.
Amazon said in October that it's developing software that will let users read its e-books on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone 7 mobile operating system. Consumers can also get Kindle books on the iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone, as well as on Research In Motion Ltd. BlackBerrys and phones running Google Inc.'s Android.
Amazon got its start more than a decade ago as an online book retailer. CEO Bezos said in an interview in July that the company began designing the Kindle in 2004 to ramp up sales of e-books.
U.S. sales of e-books are set to almost triple to $2.8 billion by 2015, according to Forrester Research Inc. in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
In a separate news item, Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg visited the Beijing offices of Sina Corp. as the billionaire executive continued his tour of China's biggest Internet companies.
Zuckerberg had an "information exchange on the Chinese Internet market" with Sina Chief Executive Officer Charles Chao during their meeting today, Liu Qi, a spokesman at the Chinese company, said by phone. The head of Facebook, the world's biggest social-networking site, had discussions about Sina's microblog service, Liu said.
The meeting with Sina, owner of China's third most-visited website, follows Zuckerberg's tour of the offices of Baidu Inc. earlier this week. Time Magazine last week named Zuckerberg, 26, its "Person of the Year" for "creating a new system of exchanging information."
Facebook has been inaccessible in China for more than a year. The Chinese government blocks access to web content that is pornographic, related to gambling and critical of the ruling Communist Party.
Liberty Global to weigh bid for Germany's Kabel: Liberty Global Inc., the cable operator controlled by U.S. billionaire John Malone, is considering a bid for Germany's No. 3 cable company Kabel Baden-Wuerttemberg GmbH & Co KG, according to two people with knowledge of the deliberations.
Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Global is evaluating the viability of combining its Unitymedia GmbH with Kabel BW in the face of possible antitrust hurdles, said the people, who declined to be identified because the matter is private. -Bloomberg