Sunday, December 22, 2013

More Watching Holiday Sales 2013

This is a continuation of my earlier article: Watching Computer and Tablet Sales in the 2013 Holiday Season.

Here is a summary of Amazon's best selling computers and accessories list 11/28 through 12/22. These results are from the top 20, sampled each night at 4am MST each of the 25 days. The number given below is the number of days a model of the listed category appears in the top 20 list. As multiple models exist in some of the categories, the number can be bigger than 25.

Kindle Fire (various models and sizes)216
Samsung Galaxy Tab (various models and sizes)67
Apple iPad minis (16gb, non-retina, 2 models)43 (24 black, 19 white)
Samsung Chromebook23
Nexus 722
Microsoft Surface RT (32gb)21
Acer Chromebook13
ASUS T100 (Windows hybrid)7
Lenovo IdeaPad 7" (Android)2
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.11

Only 2 Windows laptops ever appeared on the list (2 different ones from HP, one day each).
No desktop computer of any kind made the top 20.
Other than the cheapest iPad minis, Apple was absent from the top 20.
There were various whitebox tablets appearing occasionally (Android), though less than last year.

In summary, it is clear that Android tablets and Chromebooks dominated again this year.
Windows hybrids increased. Apple decreased. The Microsoft Surface RT above is the old model... one assumes the greatly lowered price is what attracted people.


Watching the customers in the local stores

This covers my stopping by local Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples and Office Depot stores 12/12-12/21.
First, I was impressed to find that ALL of the stores were carrying Chromebooks. In fact, Chromebooks were the only laptop/desktop/tablet carried by all of the stores. (iPads are not available at Staples.)


  • Best Buy is not doing very well this holiday season. They had less than half the traffic they had last year.
  • I added a Best Buy store to monitor in addition to the one in my town. This other store serves two cities slightly smaller than the one I live in, but combined are bigger than the city I live in. The second Best Buy does not have an Apple store, but does carry 2 Macbooks and has the usual iPad section. It also does not have a Windows store. It does have a Samsung store.
  • Chromebooks continued to be interesting to people. They were even more popular at the Best Buy I added.
  • The second Best Buy was doing a huge volume of Android tablet sales. For example, a cardboard isle display "shipper" of  Samsung Galaxy Tab 7" tablets came with 120 tablets. 96 were already sold as of 12/19. To put that in perspective our 2 local Targets have less than a dozen iPads (2 models) in stock at each store. Our local Best Buy (not the second one) carries around 4 dozen iPads in stock. (Probably 10 different models).
  • The Samsung Store consistently had more business than the other individual stores at Best Buy. It was one of the few places where you almost always had customers. This was true in both Best Buys.
  • In all the store visits I made, I only saw 6 customers look at iPads, one customer look at MacBooks and one customer look at iMacs. This is flat-out weird. Last year I saw many dozens of customers looking at Apple products. (Our nearest "real" Apple Store is 65 miles away, so this mini store in my local Best Buy is the primary place to look at things Apple for more than 500,000 people.)
  • Windows laptops sold poorly. Better than Apple, but still quite poorly.
  • Desktop machines just didn't sell at all.
  • Office Depot had a crazy sale on Nexus 7s ($50 off! -- remember they are only $229 to begin with).
  • Ignoring times when they had special sale prices (for example Black Friday). Target, Walmart, Staples and Office Depot sold very few tablets or laptops. They generally had small inventories which did not seem to change much. This was decidedly different than last year.
  • Watching shoppers in Best Buy, I am suspecting that Apple is losing a fair number of iPad users to Kindle Fires. The customers in question were clearly using the tablets as consumer devices. In such an instance, a Kindle Fire gives you a lot more for much less money.
  • While I don't cover phones (as they are sold in too many places and in too many complicated ways)... I will say that phones easily outsold other computing devices. Phones had 3 times or more traffic in Best Buy than the rest of computing devices combined.
  • On the last Saturday before Christmas, the Microsoft Surface was again seeing a lot of interest. I watched it more closely this time. I think it occurs mostly when a specially trained employee is present. They seem to be good a getting people to try them. I never saw a single one sold though. However, I did over the course of the holidays see around 16 people try them. Compare that to the 6 I saw trying iPads and you can understand why I'm concerned about Apple.

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