$89 Black Friday Kindles sold out in seconds

Blog Kindle reports on the “aftermath” of the Black Friday $89 Amazon Kindle deal. As might reasonably be expected, the Kindles sold out so fast that some people accused Amazon of not actually having them at all.

Not that it’s too surprising, given how popular Amazon is; the blog notes that between Twitter and Facebook, there was the potential for half a million people to be aware of the deal even before its spread on blogs (such as ours) came into play. Under all that attention, even several thousand refurbished units could sell out literally in seconds.

For comparison, Barnes & Noble listed refurbished Wi-Fi Nooks on eBay for $79 and then $99, and 3G/Wi-Fi models for $119. The listings have since ended, selling a total of 5,362 Wi-Fi and 1,415 3G—6,777 units in all. If Amazon had a comparable number of Kindles available, they might have been gone in a heartbeat under the demand of potentially hundreds of thousands of people. (Though perhaps it is a good measure of the Kindle and Nook’s relative popularities that it only took seconds to sell out the Kindles, but that many Nooks lingered for a few days.)

Blog Kindle compares Amazon’s listing to the “doorbuster” sales at brick-and-mortar stores, where a store might have only a dozen or so of its most popular advertised item for the purposes of drawing people into the store where they will probably buy other stuff anyway.

What it comes down to is that we can’t claim the information wasn’t out there.  It was clear from the start that this was meant to be a moment when demand would overwhelm supply by a fair amount.  I do believe that many, perhaps even Amazon themselves, were shocked by exactly how great the discrepancy between the number of Kindles and the number of Kindle buyers was, but that’s often the case at sales like these.

Still, brand new Kindles and Nooks are not that much more expensive, even if it is unclear whether they will be available in sufficient quantities to meet demand this holiday season. And given another year, both the new and Black Friday sale prices might be that much lower too.

(Found via CNet.)

5 Comments on $89 Black Friday Kindles sold out in seconds

  1. “Blog Kindle compares Amazon’s listing to the “doorbuster” sales at brick-and-mortar stores, where a store might have only a dozen or so of its most popular advertised item for the purposes of drawing people into the store where they will probably buy other stuff anyway.”
    Don’t you guys have Consumer Protection laws in America? What that quote above describes is the textbook definition of bait and switch advertising, and in Australia it’s punishable by fines of $1.1m and in some cases jail.

  2. Stores in the U. S. are under no compulsion to offer rain checks for items that are out of stock. As far as I was aware, neither are retailers in Australia.

    Although I don’t think there is an American law behind it, many advertisers will list the minimum number of items in stock for popular deals or, at a minimum, let you know that quantities are limited.

    In the U. S., it would be considered bait-and-switch if they were advertising items that they had no intention of stocking.

  3. I think that such “doorbuster” practices are illegal in Spain (and most of the EU, I guess). If they are out of stock for a certain item, the retailer must offer the same price as advertised when they get stock again, unless the advertising limits the offer temporally, e.g. “only this Sunday!!!”. Advertising a price as valid “until stocks last” is a no-no here.

    But we are pretty much communists here compared to the US, so…

  4. I think you profoundly underestimate the anger many of us feel. This was a HUGE black eye for Amazon. I am an Amazon fan, and a Kindle fan. But honestly? I’m rethinking my devotion after this little “stunt”. I made a special point of being at my computer at the stroke of the hour and immediately clicked only to be put on a “wait list” and subsequently to find out they were sold out. Shame on Amazon.

  5. Logan,
    You are under a legal obligation to take rainchecks as an Australian Corporation

    The relevant Australian law is s56(1) of the Trade Practices Act:
    “A corporation shall not…advertise for supply at a specified price, goods or services if there are reasonable grounds, of which the corporation is aware or ought reasonably to be aware, for believing that the corporation will not be able to offer for supply those goods or services at that price for a period that is, and in quantities that are, reasonable having regard to the nature of the market in which the corporation carries on business and the nature of the advertisement.”

    s5(2) states:
    ” A corporation that has…advertised goods or services for supply at a specified price shall offer such goods or services for supply at that price for a period that is, and in quantities that are, reasonable having regard to the nature of the market in which the corporation carries on business and the nature of the advertisement.”

    The summary is:
    You must have as much stock as you guess there will be demand for, and that guess has to be reasonable (i.e. A normal person with all the info you had or should have had would have guessed the same number).
    If you guess poorly, you’re required to continue selling those goods at the advertised price until the quantity you’ve sold is the amount a “reasonable” person would have forecast.
    The relevant penalties are set out in s75AZJ of the Act.

    So the summary of the summary: If Amazon had tried to pull this crap in Australia, they’d be getting a bill from the ACCC for around $1million.

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