While the Amazon Kindle international edition may be the perfect example of how not to launch a product outside of its native country, that doesn't seem to be affecting sales.
Remarkably, Amazon reports the Kindle has become the most gifted item in its history. Furthermore - and potentially far more significantly - on Christmas Day, for the first time ever, it claims customers purchased more eBooks than physical books.
"We are grateful to our customers for making Kindle the most gifted item ever in our history," said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. "On behalf of Amazon.com employees around the world, we wish everyone happy holidays and happy reading!"
Cut and paste public comments aside what do we make of this? Firstly, the eBook swing is vastly more important than the sale of any individual eBook reader. Secondly, given such a boast it is surprising Amazon chose not to publish the numbers for its eBook sales on Christmas Day. Thirdly, this is claim that does have a number of caveats.
Most notably, Christmas Day is not a day the average person would look to buy books. There's no post for a number of days, you're busy with relatives, you were just given new books. By contrast, if you received a Kindle the first thing you'd want to do is try and download a book or two to test it out - there's virtually no waiting time. So while book sales would be abnormally low that day, eBook sales should be abnormally high.
All in all, however, this does suggest the eBook phenomenon is really beginning to catch on. So what next? Well, I do think the format, price and availability of readers still has some way to go. Equally vital is the need for widespread acceptance of an open eBook standard much like MP3 and why oh why does each industry take so long to understand DRM doesn't work?!
Still, well done Amazon. With your coffers swelled perhaps now you can invest in a proper version of the Kindle for all us non-Yanks?