Online retailing giant Amazon.com published the results from its holiday 2009 selling season over the weekend and it came with an unexpected surprise: The most popular item on the site, for the first time ever, didn't come from an electronics giant like Apple or Nintendo. Instead, it was the Amazon-built and -designed Kindle eBook reader that took the top spot.
As always, Amazon refused to reveal actual sales figures for the Kindle, a bizarre and increasingly dubious practice. But according to the company, the Kindle was the most gifted item during the holiday sales period and the most gifted item in Amazon's history. But the Kindle's success doesn't stop there: According to Amazon, for the first time ever, on Christmas day, sales of Kindle-based eBooks surpassed those of traditional paper books.
"We are grateful to our customers for making Kindle the most gifted item ever in our history," said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com. "On behalf of Amazon.com employees around the world, we wish everyone happy holidays and happy reading!"
The Kindle has been so successful that a rash of competitors has sprung up, from big names like Sony (which arguably jumpstarted the sales category though its own devices never sold particularly well in the past) and Barnes & Noble to a number of smaller, less-well-known companies. Even Apple is allegedly getting in the game with a widely rumored Tablet-like device that will hit the market, supposedly, next year. This despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs' infamous claim that "people don't read anymore."
Indeed, the Kindle surpassed sales of Jobs' own iPods and Macs on Amazon.com, the most popular online retailer. In the electronics category, the Kindle beat out number two seller iPod touch 8 GB (actually last year's model, and an interesting commentary on Apple's pricing structure) and the Garmin nuvi 260W GPS, which came in third.
Other tech best-sellers on Amazon.com during the holidays include the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board for Nintendo Wii, New Super Mario Bros for Nintendo Wii, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for Xbox 360. The bestselling PC software was Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student 2007. In the computer hardware category, netbooks won big time: The top three sellers were netbooks, as were 8 of the top 10 computers sold by the retailer.
As always, Amazon offered up some interesting facts for the holidays. Its customers ordered over 9.5 million items worldwide during the holiday sales season, a record-breaking 110 items per second. And on the peak day this season, Amazon shipped over 7 million units from various fulfillment centers.