Amazon (AMZN): No Kindle Under The Tree This Year

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Oprah helped get Mr.Obama elected President. At the very least she brought him some remarkable national attention.

The famous talk show host and celebrity may have also given the new Amazon (AMZN) Kindle electronic book reader a huge boost. But, in this case, the results were counter-productive.

Oprah had Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos on her nationally syndicated show to talk about the Kindle. She even went to far as to say that it was one of the greatest devices she had ever seen. That started a run on Kindles and that means there won’t be any on sale for the rest of the year.

The trouble with Oprah’s endorsement is that now there is an 11 to 13 week wait for the customer who wants the device. That would put the product back on the shelves in late February, well after the holiday rush. It does not do Amazon’s Q4 revenue any favors.

Bezos made a classic business mistake, not unlike the one that Nintendo made last year when it ran low on Wii game machines just as shoppers were moving into malls looking for holiday goodies. Bezos introduced the Kindle by saying it would change the way that people read books. It would revolutionize the industry. It would reverse the decline in book sales. It would be the "next big thing" in consumer electronics, an iPod for the literate.

Companies sometimes have problems believing their own press. They flog their latest product or service. Secretly, they worry if anything can be that great. It happened when Ford introduced the Mustang in 1964. It has happened a lot since.

Bezos was trapped into committing the cardinal sin of free enterprise. He did not trust his own judgment.

Douglas A. McIntyre