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No Worries for Now, But Holiday Shipping Delays Ahead for Kindle Fire?

For the first time, as of today, Amazon’s website and ordering process is not guaranteeing November 15 Order a Kindle Fireshipment of newly pre-ordered Kindle Fire units.

As of Friday morning, Amazon’s Kindle Fire ordering page says “Expected to ship in 3 to 5 days” for the Fire tablet, which of course could still mean a November 15 shipment, but does not guarantee that ship date.

For a Kindle Fire that I ordered this morning with overnight 1-day shipping, the Order Confirmation provided by Amazon says “Delivery estimate: Nov. 16, 2011 – Nov. 18, 2011.”

Please note: If you pre-ordered a Kindle Fire before November 11, no worries, because Amazon has been very clear that it will ship by November 15.

So, what remains to be seen is whether this is a temporary hiccup in Amazon’s supply chain for the Kindle Fire, a hedge, a bit of stress marketing to accelerate pre-holiday orders, or — worst case here — some sort of sad repeat of the 2007 and 2008 holidays seasons when the vast majority of pre-holiday Kindle orders were not shipped until February or March.

Nobody knows exactly how many orders Amazon has received for the Kindle Fire in the six and a half weeks since it began accepting pre-orders on September 28, but we’d guess that it is very close to the point where Jeff Bezos could, in passing, casually drop the word “millions” without stretching the point. But what has changed in the last few days is that in a press release on Tuesday Amazon “announced that over 16,000 stores across the U.S. will be selling the new Kindle family starting November 15. Customers will be able to visit any Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, Sam’s Club, RadioShack, Office Depot, as well as several other retailers, to experience and purchase the $79 Kindle, the $99 Kindle Touch, the $149 Kindle 3G and the $199 Kindle Fire.” Even with the most efficient possible just-in-time inventory management by those retailers, those distribution channels will require at least two million additional Kindle Fire units at or very near the November 15 release date.

We’ve been impressed with Amazon’s ability to stay ahead of heavy demand for all its Kindle models since March of 2009, so we’re not predicting doom and gloom here. But I will say that this morning’s slight hint of the possibility that the demand might edge ahead of supply has us going over our Kindle Fire orders again just to make sure that we’re in a strong position to deliver the tablets to all of our winners in our Kindle Nation weekly giveaway sweepstakes.

Kindle DX is Back in Stock on Its Release Date — What’s Up with That?

Was the Kindle DX ever out of stock?

Since last week the new Kindle’s Amazon product page has been stoking the flames of gadgeteer anxiety with messages claiming that freshly placed orders would ship within 7 to 10 days. New orders placed yesterday, June 9, showed a delivery date of June 16 (June 15 with one-day shipping). Naturally, Amazon exposed itself to various forms of criticism, most notably:
  • customer frustration that the company seemed not to have learned from the recurring stock-out problems that delayed Kindle 1 shipments from November 2007 to April 2008 and again from November 2008 to the launch of the Kindle 2 in February 2009; and
  • suspicions that Amazon was purposely raising the specter of a Kindle DX stock-out problem to gin up sales of the new model, and get as many orders as possible in the pipeline before the announcement of the iPhone 3G S and the intriguing Iceberg Reader app for the iPhone and the iPod Touch this week.
Whatever the underlying problems or motivations, Amazon now appears to have solved the problem before it even begins shipping the Kindle DX today.

Three additional tips, while you are at it:
  • Don’t forget to order the Amazon Kindle DX Leather Cover while you are at it. The new Kindle is too large, ungainly, and vulnerable to use without a cover, and unlike the Kindle 1 the cover is not included.
  • I’m not recommending the $109 Kindle DX two-year warranty, but you should be aware, if you want it, that it must be ordered within 30 days of your new Kindle DX ship date.
  • Finally, don’t mistake I made on my original Kindle DX order. Amazon will let you set up a Kindle DX order using your bank account (as opposed to a credit card), but then will unceremoniously cancel your order a few days (or now, perhaps, a few hours) later without any useful communication, customer service assistance, or opportunity to change your payment method. I’m guessing they’ve probably thrown out about a half a million dollars worth of Kindle DX orders with this snafu, but what’s a half a million dollars?

Update: Just to verify one other thing. Kindle DX orders placed this morning with one-day shipping are indeed now showing a delivery date of June 11.