The latest press release from Amazon.com
"Amazon.com's 14th Holiday Season Is Best Ever," reads the headline of Friday's release. But what does that say, exactly? After all, last year's release bore the headline, "Amazon.com Wraps Up Its 13th Holiday With Best Season Ever."
Without any hard numbers, all we know is that Amazon's revenue grew by more than, uh, 0% over the past month and change. That's certainly commendable, given the sorry state of bricks-and-mortar retail, not to mention a few of Amazon's dot-com rivals. It's still a very incomplete equation, though.
Amazon never shows all of its cards during its post-holiday missives. We know that the company received orders for 6.3 million items during this year's peak shopping day of Dec. 15 -- much better than the 5.4 million items purchased on last year's peak day, Dec. 10, 2007. We know that it shipped to 5% more countries and 6% more APO/FPO addresses. These trends are all encouraging, but we still don't know much. What was the average price of these items? What kind of revenue did Amazon generate throughout the holiday shopping season? How about those margins?
Amazon's not telling. It doesn't have to -- at least, not until its quarterly report in five weeks. However, Amazon's list of bestsellers does reveal a lot about the hot items of 2008.
It's a whole new ball game in 2008. None of those "must have" products made the cut this time around. Netbooks were the hot PC item, led by the blue sapphire Acer Aspire. Apple's iPod touch was a top seller in consumer electronics, so Apple wasn't completely shut out. Amazon claims that it sold the weight equivalent of 151 Mini Coopers in GPS units, but that's just a clever stat that doesn't single out any brand -- Garmin included -- by name.
So don't approach Friday's press release as a way to get to know Amazon a little better. Dig into the numbers to see what folks are buying. The types of products selling at the hottest pace will be worth remembering when these companies post their quarterly financials early next year.
Other perfectly clear headlines: