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.
“Kindle is gaining an unstoppable traction,” Sandeep Aggarwal, a San Francisco-based analyst at Caris & Co., wrote in a research note today. He has a “buy” rating on Amazon and doesn’t own the shares.
Drew Herdener, a spokesman for Seattle-based 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.
Kindle Versus IPad
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.
Even as Kindle sales accelerate, Amazon is lessening its reliance on a single family of devices to sell its e-books, said 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.
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