Amazon reported its best-ever Black Friday sales for the company's Kindle family of e-readers and media tablets, the online retail giant said Monday. Unit sales quadrupled across the board in comparison with Kindle sales the same day last year.
"Even before the busy holiday shopping weekend, we'd already sold millions of the new Kindle family," said Amazon Kindle Vice President Dave Limp. "And Kindle Fire was the best-selling product across all of Amazon.com" on Black Friday.
However, Apple's iPad also had an outstanding Black Friday, according to the sell-through observations made by investment firm Piper Jaffray. "We observed Apple stores selling 14.8 iPads per hour, up from 8.8 iPads per hour last year on Black Friday," noted Piper Jaffray analysts Gene Munster and Andrew Murphy.
One reason why was that Apple discounted iPads 8 percent to 9 percent for Black Friday this year, compared with 6 percent to 8 percent on Black Friday last year. "Apple stores were selling 68 percent more iPads per hour on a year-on-year basis," Munster and Murphy wrote in a Monday investor note.
Sales Channel Rivalry
Though Apple also sells the iPad via mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, the $199 price tag sported by the new Kindle Fire clearly helped Amazon beat Apple's iPad unit sales at Target's retail outlets nationwide.
"This was a great Black Friday for Target and for Kindle Fire, which was the best-selling tablet in our stores on Black Friday," said Target Vice President Nik Nayar.
Amazon also benefited from heavy Kindle sales at Best Buy. On the other hand, Apple's iPad is available worldwide and also distinctly appeals to business professionals in ways in which the Kindle Fire cannot -- due to Amazon's design emphasis on delivering multimedia entertainment as well as the limitations induced by the device's Amazon-centric user interface.
The Black Friday results racked up by Apple's iPad were consistent with Piper Jaffray's estimate of 13.5 million unit sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 -- up 84 percent year-over-year. "We remain comfortable with our iPad estimates based on this data," Munster and Murphy wrote.
Though Kindle Fire has remained the best-selling product across all of Amazon since its unveiling eight weeks ago, the red-hot device faces a new rival in the more-powerful Nook Tablet from Barnes & Noble, which is priced at $249. The book retail giant also has reduced the price of its older Nook Color e-reader/tablet to $199, to match Amazon's Kindle Fire pricing.
The ultimate key to the Nook Tablet's success, however, is the new Nook Boutique recently launched at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide. "It's a fairly radical change, if you think about it -- turning bookstores into consumer electronics stores," said J.P. Gownder, the lead PC analyst at Forrester Research.
Gownder believes Barnes & Noble's new sales-channel effort is off to "a good start" for several reasons, including the development of logical breakouts centered on different usage scenarios, such as Nook Kids, Nook Newsstand and Nook Apps. "These scenarios allow Barnes & Noble to communicate the specific features of the device that shine," Gownder wrote in a blog.
The new Nook Boutique also provides customers with direct on-site product support, an area in which online retailer Amazon cannot compete. "Critical to any channel experience is the ability to have well-trained staff interacting with customers," Gownder wrote.