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Kindle sales figures: Less relevant as Amazon's strategy, brand flourish

It's the guessing game that never ends - and, at this point, might not even matter: How many Kindles is Amazon really selling?Two people who are "aware of the company's sales projections" tell Bloomberg that the company is will likely sell more than 8 million Kindle e-readers this year.

It's the guessing game that never ends - and, at this point, might not even matter: How many Kindles is Amazon really selling?

Two people who are "aware of the company's sales projections" tell Bloomberg that the company is will likely sell more than 8 million Kindle e-readers this year. It's a greater number than analysts have projected but doesn't seem like too much of a leap. Wall Street types have been putting Kindle sales in the neighborhood of about 5 million sold but have also noted that their estimates are conservative.

The bigger headline is the growth. Industry watchers are guessing that the company sold around 2 million to 2.5 million Kindles last year, which suggests that the company will double that - and then some.

Amazon, of course, doesn't disclose its Kindle sales numbers, though it has said that it's sold millions and repeatedly have pointed to it at the "No. 1 best seller" on Amazon.

Are the figures - either actual sales or year-over-year growth - all that important? Sure, they matter. But a note by Macquarie Equities Research analyst Ben Schacter suggests that there's an even more important gauge in brand awareness. He wrote:

Not only has the Kindle been a success (we estimate ~7.5m units sold), but its Kindle Everywhere strategy has also defined AMZN and the Kindle brand as the e-book retailer, in our opinion. While Apple, Google, B&N, Sony, and others will continue to compete, we expect AMZN to remain in the leadership position for the foreseeable future. Notably, despite the success of the iPad, we think that AMZN remains the leader for the actual e-books, even on the iPad.

It's certainly competitive out there - but it's important to note that the bullish sentiment around Amazon isn't just sales of the Kindle itself. The growth of the e-reader category and Amazon's approach on how to build out the business seems to be a positive for Wall Street types. In a note, Barclays Capital analyst Douglas Anmuth wrote:

In somewhat of a response to the Google eBookstore, Amazon announced that Kindle for the Web (originally a capability to allow consumers to read free first chapters of Kindle books through web browsers) will expand to enable anyone with access to the web to buy and read full Kindle books without a download or installation required. Also, now for the first time bookstores, retailers, authors, bloggers and all other website owners will be able to offer Kindle books on their own sites and earn referral fees through the Amazon Associates Program. We believe this is a smart strategic move by Amazon because, as our numbers suggest, Kindle eBooks revenue will surpass that of Kindle devices in 2011 and over time we believe eBook content is the much bigger opportunity.