When Will Amazon Get It Right?

Amazon.com's (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) growing line of Kindle products is hotter than ever -- but what does that mean, exactly?

The leading online retailer issued a press release this morning, announcing that Kindle device sales more than doubled last year's holiday shopping weekend record.

Keep in mind that there are plenty of moving parts to this new record:

  • Amazon's global reach has grown.
  • It turned heads yesterday with a Cyber Monday deal that priced the original Kindle Fire -- the one that hit the market last November at $199 and is available for $159 now -- at a mere $129.
  • There are more varieties of Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets than there were a year ago.

However, more importantly, what does it really mean when a company says that sales have doubled when we were never given a number to begin with? Last year's press release bragged about Kindle device sales quadrupling during Black Friday. Are we to wonder why growth is decelerating or should we applaud the eightfold pop over two holiday seasons?

What about margins? At least we have a fair indication there. Despite what analysts see as a robust 28% pop in net sales this holiday quarter, Wall Street's bracing for a sharp drop in profitability. Is sheer volume more important than the bottom line? It wouldn't be embarrassing if that was the case. Giving up near-term profits for the sake of long-term market share can be a noble pursuit.

However, since Amazon's willing to sacrifice margins for the sake of arming its audience with Kindle devices, what's so wrong about actually giving us a number?

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) does it right. We get quarterly unit and sales tallies, even when the data isn't flattering (sorry, iPod). Apple also wouldn't dream of putting out a vague press release that is relative to something that was never a public absolute.

Even lowly Nintendo (NASDAQOTH: NTDOY  ) had no problem divulging that it sold 400,000 Wii U systems since the new console hit the market last week.

What does Amazon stand to gain by keeping mum? Apple obviously hasn't been hurt given its chatty ways. Come on, Jeff Bezos. It's going to be an impressive number. Just go ahead and impress us.

If you want to stay on top of the world's leading online retailer, a new premium report explores the company's upside and downside. The Amazon research report also includes a year's worth of updates, so click here to check it out now.

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