Guest Posted on January 6, 2016 by Ben Taylor
With the holidays in the books, SpecOut looked back at the hottest gifts from the season, with a focus on Amazon sales. The online retailer released a report detailing the best-sellers of the holidays, ranging from music to movies, gadgets to home appliances. As usual, electronics and home entertainment dominate the list.
We’ll run through 25 of the hottest sellers, complete with the likely keys to success. With more than 200 million orders shipped from Amazon Prime alone, chances are at least a few of these products found their way under your tree.
Note that Amazon’s release doesn’t provide hard numbers, only general highlights and a list of top-sellers. So we’ll be doing our best to read between the lines.
#1. Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphones
Likely key to success: cheap
There’s budget shopping, and then there’s this $7 pair of Panasonic in-ear headphones. The sound quality is merely fine, but for under $10, it’s among the best stocking stuffers you can buy.
#2. Sennheiser HD 598 Special Edition Over-Ear Headphones
Likely key to success: quality at a fair price
While the $7 Panasonic earphones were the cheap holiday best-seller, Sennheiser won the high-end. Sure, they’re still not up to DJ or audio engineering standards, but for everyday music lovers, the 598 Special Edition provides great quality for the price.
#3. Powerbeats 2 Wireless In-Ear Headphones
Likely key to success: brand power
The Powerbeats 2 Wireless In-Ear Headphones sound good, work reliably and look great. Yes, the product is overpriced. Sure, other wireless headphones do a better job. But no one in the audio industry has a brand like Beats, which propels the company’s products every holiday season.
#4. Jensen JTA-230 3 Speed Stereo Turntable
Likely key to success: cool gift for music lovers
What could be better than having a personal turntable with built-in speakers, all for $50? For music lovers, this at-home-DJ machine was the ideal gift: geeky, affordable and retro all at once.
#5. Baby Einstein Take Along Musical Toy
Likely key to success: babies, music
The Baby Einstein toy has everything going for it. It’s as cheap as a sandwich, plays famous classical music and belongs to a lucrative market — rookie parents will buy just about anything for new arrivals.
#6. Amazon Fire
Likely key to success: Amazon on-site promotion
The Amazon Fire lacks the nifty “Paperwhite” technology of the company’s e-readers, and isn’t as powerful as the high-end Amazon Fire HD. But at $50, it’s hard to ignore Amazon’s entry-level tablet.
#7. Amazon Fire Kids Edition
Likely key to success: kids love gadgets even more than parents
While the standard Amazon Fire might be nothing special in the world of tablets, the Amazon Fire Kids Edition provides a colorful bezel and child-friendly design. It costs twice as much as the classic tablet, but customers were clearly willing to spend for their kids.
#8. Amazon Fire HD 6
Likely key to success: affordable
With a crisp display and solid performance, the Amazon Fire HD 6 can actually compete with other midrange tablets from Samsung and Apple. While the reviews have been mixed, the price point is far below the Galaxy and iPad alternatives, making the Amazon’s HD tablet a holiday hit.
#9. GoPro HERO4 Silver
Likely key to success: trendy
The GoPro brand remains hot, with cameras built for adventuring, climbing, racing and other extreme sports. This holiday season, the high-end HERO4 Silver beat out the entry-level models, indicating customers were willing to spend for more features and even higher quality.
#10. Black and Decker CHV1410L Dust Buster
Likely key to success: power for its size
A practical gift for college kids and homemakers, reviews report that this Black and Decker Dust Buster performs like a buster double its size.
#11. Samsung 850 EVO 250GB Solid State Drive
Likely key to success: performance, value
When your laptop starts to slow down, it’s tempting to buy a brand new one. But Samsung’s SSD — a replacement drive for both PCs and Macs — was a popular alternative fix this holiday season, and reviewers say performance improvements can be dramatic.
#12. TCL 32-Inch 720p Roku Smart LED TV
Likely key to success: right price, right features
As TV makers have pushed 70-inch TVs with “ultra HD” resolutions, price tags have plummeted on the modest end of the spectrum. This TCL TV — perfect for a dorm room or side bedroom TV — retails for under $250. Throw in built-in smart features, and it’s no surprise this model emerged a holiday winner.
#13. Samsung UN40J5200 40-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV
Likely key to success: great price for a 1080p (HD) set
At $340, this Samsung 1080p TV offers great value for an HD television. Sure, all the marketing suggests you should get a 60-inch-plus set, but for many people, 40 inches is plenty.
#14. Toshiba Satellite C55-C524115.6-Inch Laptop
Likely key to success: good price for decent performance
Every year, laptop makers battle for the low end of the market, with the goal of selling a cheap (under $500) model that still garners good reviews.
For the 2015 holiday season, Toshiba’s Satellite C55-C5241 won that battle. Add in the 15.6-inch screen, and you’ve got a massive display at a great price.
#15. Sphero BB-8 App-Enabled Droid
Likely key to success: Star Wars mania
With the release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” — on pace to become the biggest box office hit in film history — Sphero’s BB-8 droid toy cruised onto Amazon’s best-selling list.
#16. Star Wars Triology Episodes IV-VI (Blu-ray + DVD)
Price: $35 (Blu-ray), $95 (DVD)
Likely key to success: Star Wars hype
Unfortunately for consumers, you can’t stream the original Star Wars trilogy using any standard streaming service, whether you try Netflix, Hulu or HBO. Fortunately for 20th Century Fox, you can buy the Blu-ray or DVD set just fine.
#17. Inside Out (Blu-ray/DVD + Digital)
Likely key to success: Pixar’s best film in years
Kids’ movies sell better than just about any other films, and Pixar’s summer hit is the latest example. Critics might be mixed on “The Good Dinosaur,” but “Inside Out” succeeded across both reviews and box office receipts.
#18. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
Likely key to success: one of the most consistent series in video games
Even as mid- and low-budget game studios have struggled to compete with mobile phones and apps, the big-budget game series continue to flourish. Call of Duty remains among the most consistent series in all of video games, and “Black Ops III” was the latest in a string of top-selling titles.
#19. Adele’s “25”
Likely key to success: Adele herself + “Hello”
It’s rare to see an album on a top-selling list in 2015, largely because of streaming services like Spotify. But Adele has always had the power to transcend the trends. Her hit single, “Hello,” is on pace to hit 1 billion music video views.
#20. Adult Coloring Books
Likely key to success: Adult Coloring Books
The latest stress-reducing activity is the adult coloring book, which lets you color in intricate designs while you unwind after work. The aptly named “Coloring Books for Adults” produced this year’s bestselling version.
#21. AmazonBasics Mid-Back Office Chair
Likely key to success: year-end office equipment orders
Here and there, you’ll find a mundane, practical item surfacing among the more holiday-specific sellers. This year, Amazon’s Mid-Back Office Chair won the sales battle. While it might have been a popular holiday gift, our guess is that it had more to do with corporate office equipment orders than holiday cheer.
#22. Oster Electric Wine Bottle Opener
Likely key to success: Go-to generic gift
The only holiday gift more generic than a bottle of wine? A fancy wine opener. With automatic, electric operation, it combines techy flair with daily use.
#23. Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 Desert Boots
Price: $40 – $120
Likely key to success: a simple, stylish shoe
Clarks Men’s Bushacre 2 Desert Boots won the men’s shoe war this holiday season, a simple shoe that blends class with a hint of ruggedness.
#24. Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac Cross-Body Bag
Likely key to success: sleek and fashionable
In the annual women’s bag sweepstakes, the Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac won the holidays. Reviewers indicated that the smart design and overall look of the bag justified the moderately high price tag.
#25. Jenga Classic Game
Likely key to success: classic and fun
There’s a reason Hasbro includes “Classic” in Jenga’s name: it’s part of Jenga’s brand, and why the game continues to sell, year after year after year.