The biggest shopping holidays of the year are over, which means it's time to go back to paying full retail for gadgets -- or whatever Amazon is charging, anyway. Sales on both Black Friday and Cyber Monday were way up over last year; Friday shot 26 percent over 2011, crossing the $1 billion mark for the first time. Cyber Monday sales, meanwhile, climbed an estimated 17 percent for a total of $1.46 billion. With online sales so strong, the days of getting up at 4AM to stand in a chilly line outside of Best Buy may be behind us, replaced by hitting up bestbuy.com as soon as you get to your cubicle in the morning. I'm okay with that.
No shortage of digital shoppers went to Amazon.com on both days to try and strike on one of the hundreds of "Lightning" deals cycling through over the weekend. Along the way, plenty of people took the time to buy themselves a Kindle of some sort. While Amazon continued its frustrating trend of not giving us any hard numbers, overall Kindle sales were "more than double" that of last year. Of course, with the addition of the Paperwhite and the two new Fire HD models, there are more Kindles to choose from than ever before. That had to help at least a little bit.
Microsoft too was reveling in its strong sales, but it was kind enough to give us some actual figures. It moved a whopping 750,000 Xbox 360 consoles during the week ending on Black Friday. (That number would have surely been much higher had they gone through Monday.) That's nearly double the number of Wii U consoles Nintendo managed to sell during its launch period, making Microsoft the clear leader for home console sales in the US. I'm eager to see whether it can carry that momentum over to the next generation.
Nintendo's hoping to pick up a little retail steam with a new, cheaper Wii. It's the Wii Mini. It's red, lacks internet connectivity, has no way to access the Virtual Console, can't play GameCube games and costs $99 Canadian. Yes, Canadian, because this system is, at least through the holidays, exclusive to Canada. I am a big fan of America's great neighbor to the north. It's a wonderful place, but still it's a bit of a curious market for Nintendo, a decidedly Japanese company, to launch a console exclusively. While that could be a sign of Nintendo's affinity for poutine and Tim Hortons donuts, more likely it says a lot about the perceived lack of interest in a console that's slightly smaller, $50 cheaper and rather less powerful than the full version.
No concerns about the worldwide success of the Samsung Galaxy Note II, which the company indicated has sold a quite impressive 5 million units. That's a big number for a very big phone, a figure that's soon to be boosted by the American release on Verizon. The phone is now available available at retail VZW stores, while those who pre-ordered got theirs on the 29th. I know this because I myself pre-ordered one. Yes, I've made a commitment to a new phone and can finally put my aged daily driver Droid Charge out to pasture. Poor thing.
Google also started shipping Nexus 4 orders this week and released a new batch online for purchase -- which promptly overloaded and killed the company's online ordering system. Again. Desperate buyers were smacked in the face with a flurry of error messages and indications that the phone had sold out, even when there was still stock. It is a somewhat embarrassing state of affairs, that a company as dominant online as Google can't handle the rush of its own sales. But hey, problems due to unexpected demand are a good thing, yeah?
Apple, meanwhile, is beginning to meet the demand for its latest release, with the 21.5-inch version of the new and improved, thinner iMac hitting retail. Those wanting the bigger, 27-inch model will have to wait another few weeks. You can read our first impressions of them here. We'll have a review up as soon as we've had enough time to thoroughly test them.
Tim Stevens is Editor-in-chief of Engadget and Editorial Director for AOL Tech. You can find him on Twitter at @tim_stevens.
This piece originally appeared in Distro #68.