updated 06:30 pm EST, Wed December 23, 2009
Nook shortage sparked by supply, not demand
As many as half a million of Barnes & Noble's Nook readers will reach the US within four months, southeast Asian tips said today. The bookseller has long said it has been "overwhelmed" by demand, but those aware of its supply chain now tell TechCrunch that about 60,000 Nook devices will have shipped in 2009 and about 500,000 total by March. The number is believed well above internal forecasts and is helped by Foxconn being almost immediately ready to step up its manufacturing.
The more concrete though unconfirmed figures have appeared just as Barnes & Noble has told customers that new online orders for the dual-screen reader won't ship until February 1st, or nearly two months after the first units began reaching customers. Those who had pre-ordered a Nook early enough have already been told they will receive a $100 gift certificate if their shipment doesn't arrive before Christmas.
Such sales figures are particularly promising for competition versus Amazon's Kindle readers as shipments for the original 2007 device are estimated to have topped just 400,000 units in a whole year. Barnes & Noble has been helped by technical advantages such as the secondary touchscreen, a lending feature and Wi-Fi but also has a distinct advantage in its retail bookstores, where customers have had the chance to try the reader themselves where the Kindle is online-only.
Early sales may be imperative for the company as it may face an Apple tablet in late January that is widely speculated as having a strong e-book component. Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner has pointed to sources who insist that as many as 3 million tablets a quarter could ship from Apple's suppliers and easily dwarf Barnes & Noble's numbers.