Amazon Touts Kindle's Success, Won't Release Figures

In recent months, Amazon has issued one press release after another to talk up the success of its Kindle ebook reader. The hype surrounding Kindle's success has helped to propel Amazon's share price upward, but some are wondering how long Amazon can continue to make headlines before it releases actual numbers to back up its claims.

On December 26, Amazon claimed the Kindle was the most purchased gift in its history and that sales of electronic books from its store surpassed physical book sales on Christmas day. Half-way through December, the retailer said the Kindle had enjoyed its best monthly sales ever in that month. While both of these claims certainly sound impressive, Amazon never provided hard-core numbers to back up the claims. An Amazon spokeswoman explained, saying Amazon does not disclose unit sales as a matter of company policy.

Company policy or not, we have to think investors will eventually want some concrete numbers to back up these claims. As more and more ebook readers enter the market in 2010, Amazon's claims could be put to the test, and investors will likely want to know exactly how Kindle sales compare to the sales of other ebook readers on the market.

Forrester estimates the Kindle has a market share of about 55% in the U.S., ahead of devices from Sony and Barnes & Noble. Based on consumer surveys, Forrester says 2.5 million Kindles have been sold to date.

Legally, Amazon is not required to disclose sales figures on the Kindle until the reader accounts for a material portion of its business. Analysts currently estimate that the Kindle will account for less than 2% of Amazon's expected $8.9 billion in sales for the current holiday quarter.