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Old 03-09-2008, 09:02 PM   #1
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Conspiracy Theory: What is Amazon hiding about the Kindle?

On his Computer World blog Mike Elgan speculates that Amazon is claiming a shortage of eBook reader Kindle in order to give a false impression of success.

Quote:
Is Amazon really working hard to ramp up production? Or is the company artificially creating a perception of high demand by playing games with production? If not, why hasn't it been able to fix the problem in four months? And since Amazon can't keep up with demand, why does it devote the very top center of the Amazon.com home page -- the most valuable real estate on the entire site -- to the creation of MORE demand?
His speculation sounds pretty thin to me, but I would be interested in how many units Amazon is shipping, if only to better judge the inability of E Ink suppliers to meet current demands.

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Old 03-09-2008, 09:12 PM   #2
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It wouldn't surprise me actually. Nintendo supposedly did the same thing with the Wii.

Amazon is a huge a company, and although maybe the shortage is genuine, if it keeps up for a long time I'll be somewhat suspicious. I think they have enough resources at their disposal to get things in order :P
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:18 PM   #3
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Yes, they do have a lot of resources. They even have a magic wand(tm) that can make Vizplex screens! With this magic wand(tm), they're not dependent on one manufacturer, and they don't have to share production with Jinke, Bookeen, and Sony.
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:31 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
Yes, they do have a lot of resources. They even have a magic wand(tm) that can make Vizplex screens! With this magic wand(tm), they're not dependent on one manufacturer, and they don't have to share production with Jinke, Bookeen, and Sony.
Sony 505, in stock. Iliad, in stock. Cybook, in stock.

Of course the Kindle is probably more demand, but the e-ink shortage can't be toooo dire either. The Kindle never even seems to appear as in-stock briefly, so it is still possible that Amazon has marketing objectives that coincide with a shortage.
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Old 03-09-2008, 09:53 PM   #5
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The Iliad doesn't use the same screen so it's not really relevant to this discussion.

The Cybook is indeed currently in stock. But inside of a week it will be out of stock again. This has occurred at least twice (or was it 3 times) since it debuted.

Do you know that the 505 is in stock, or are you simply pretty sure? I would like to dispute your statement, but the info I have is nearly a month old. I think I'll spend a few minutes tomorrow collecting new data.

Amazon has put the Kindle on the top center of its homepage. Do you really think they have to do anything else to make demand exceed supply?
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:28 PM   #6
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I just looked at the Sony Website at 10:24 P.M and the status of the Sony PRS 505 is:

Temporarily out of stock. Estimated ship date: 03/17/2008.
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:32 PM   #7
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When I bought my Sony it was out of stock everywhere but eBay. That suited me because I'm in Australia so eBay was where I wanted to find one

I would not be at all surprised to find out that the screens are where everyone is being held up. I have read enough posts from various manufacturers to wonder why someone like Amazon doesn't just buy VizPlex or at least fire a heap of cash into it in order to greatly increase production. I suspect part of the problem is that they're putting a lot of effort into improving the technology and are reluctant to invest too much in making current screens because next year they will be making different ones. I hope so, anyway.
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:39 PM   #8
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B&H has the silver 505 in stock for $299.99 and ships internationally as well.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...ital_Book.html

The blue 505 they say 7-14 days.
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Old 03-09-2008, 10:54 PM   #9
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before I made my post I did check various sites and all the devices I listed were in stock where I checked.

And yes, I know the Cybook is often out of stock, but I have personally never seen the Kindle listed as in-stock, and I check almost every day when I'm reading book reviews.

At any rate, my point is that Amazon faking a shortage (or even just not trying very hard to correct one) is certainly possible now or in the future, as it is definitely a viable marketing strategy. At this point I think it is unlikely, but I still wouldn't be surprised.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
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At any rate, my point is that Amazon faking a shortage (or even just not trying very hard to correct one) is certainly possible now or in the future, as it is definitely a viable marketing strategy. At this point I think it is unlikely, but I still wouldn't be surprised.
I would be. I think the simplest and most obvious explanation (e-ink screen availability) is the correct one.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:16 PM   #11
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my point is that Amazon faking a shortage
Conceivably what they mean is that they always have more orders than devices. Which means that every order will be shipped a day or a week after it is made, rather than the usual Amazon practice of shipping when the order is made. The books I've bought from them work that way - a couple of times I've got two packages a day apart, the second containing the "out of stock" item(s).

But heck, maybe they are talking it up and will be raising the price to take advantage of that (has anyone checked to make sure they're not selling them at a premium on eBay?)
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:20 PM   #12
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I would be. I think the simplest and most obvious explanation (e-ink screen availability) is the correct one.
I agree that the obvious explanation is most likely, so don't get me wrong. I would just be surprised by very few things that a large company like Amazon would resort to. Unfortunately most big businesses are run by people who have had to be very clever and conniving to get there.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:24 PM   #13
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The high price on Ebay is just under $500.
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Old 03-09-2008, 11:27 PM   #14
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Conceivably what they mean is that they always have more orders than devices.
That has always been my assumption too, although they don't even give a time estimate based on how many back-orders they have anymore (although that gives them more credibility imo).

To be honest though, I don't really care if they're faking it or not :P I'm not getting a Kindle anyways, and the main thing that matters to me is that electronic readers are hyped as much as possible. We need more publishers!
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:16 AM   #15
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I think it's pretty much baseless. People say this every time there is a limit to supply regarding a popular item - I know the 24 hr Wal-Mart, overnight shipping, megamart lifestyle has made us all think that there are no limits to production and supply, but there are and when you're talking about a part that only one company makes... it's going to happen.
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