An estimate of Kindle Fire returns based on one-star reviews posted by disappointed customers

“We spent some time Saturday morning reading the Kindle Fire feedback on,” Philip Elmer-DeWitt reports for Fortune. “There were 3,678 write-ups in all, nearly half of them (47%) glowing five-star reviews that basically said the same thing (Typical headline: ‘Outstanding value at $199’). What interested us, however, were the 491 (13.3%) one-star reviews. They are relevant because the number of Kindle Fires being returned to the store is likely to be an undisclosed material factor in Amazon’s results this quarter.”

“Unlike Apple, which reports unit sales to the SEC every three months, Amazon has never told investors how many Kindles it has sold. The best we have are guesses, like the estimate released Friday by IHS iSuppli that Amazon will ship 3.9 Kindle Fires this quarter compared with 18.6 million Apple iPads,” P.E.D.reports. “The satisfaction ratings for iPads, however, are off the charts. The Kindle Fire? Not so much.”

P.E.D. reports, “Using 90% of the 13.3% one-star reviews as rough measure, this suggests that nearly half a million of the estimated 3.9 million Kindles to be shipped this quarter will be returned.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Anyone who gives the Kindle Fire even a 4-star rating has never touched an iPad and/or is mentally deficient.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dominick P.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
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PCWorld reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Flawed, unimpressive, subpar; can’t hold a candle to iPad – November 16, 2011
Mossberg reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Frustrating, clunky, much less capable and versatile than iPad – November 16, 2011
Apple iPad 2 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire: Bootup, browsing, and Netflix streaming (with video) – November 16, 2011
Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore – November 14, 2011
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, ornery, unpolished – November 14, 2011
The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal – November 14, 2011
Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted – November 14, 2011

PC Magazine reviews Apple iOS 5: The best phone and tablet OS, Editors’ Choice – October 15, 2011
The Guardian reviews Apple iPad 2: Ahead of the pack – March 25, 2011
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  1. With those returned Fire’s they loose another $50-$100 because of the refurbishing, postage and packaging plus other expenses. That makes cool 25-50 Million dollars extra loss. Go Amazon go!

    1. During the initial production runs, Amazon is supposedly losing money on every Kindle Fire sold. The more they sell, the more they lose in overall profit. A significant return rate will make the loses even higher. Usually, that type of extra expense is a minus from the product’s sales profit, but Kindle Fire has no sales profit.

      Kindle Fire may bankrupt Amazon with its “success.” 😉

  2. That’s also my opinion- most negative reviews for Apple products are from people who’ve never touched them. Others are from (PC) people adverse to change, even if it’s for the (much) better. The Kindle Fire, I think, is a victim of unrealistically high expectations. I’d rather have one iPad than 2 or 3 Kindles. Much more value. Time, and life, is too short.

  3. I will never give up my iPad. But the Kindle Fire isn’t an iPad competitor. I know Amazon tries to spin it that way, but it’s not. It’s a cloud media consumption device and entertainment device. It’s great at delivering Amazon Prime’s Video on Demand, and Netflix. It’s a perfectly fine book reader and news reader. All that’s good. It even handles some games great (nothing too complex).

    If I didn’t have so much invested in iBooks, I might consider getting one. I like reading books on my iPad. The Kindle Fire is a great book reader.

    However, it’s not an iPad. It won’t handle full cloud computing stuff like the iPad can.

    So if you keep expecting a decent competitor to the iPad with the fire, your going to end up with 1 star reviews.

    However, if you want a $200 or less color screen book reader than can handle basic emails and basic web functionality and let you stream netflix and amazon prime video, then yes, a 4 or 5 star review is possible. It can to 3-5 things very well. But that’s it. Just 3-5. Anything other than that, and you need the iPad.

      1. Yes, the e-ink Kindles get good reviews. I don’t see any advantage of having a touch screen, for a device that is mostly meant to be an ebook reader.

        I use the Kindle app on my Mac and iPhone quite a lot, and buy ebooks from Amazon. I may get that $79 Kindle myself.

        1. A fellow worker just got the $79 Kindle, and it’s a very nice piece of equipment, especially for the price. I’m going to get one for my wife; she reads romance novels, and it would perfect for that purpose. Although I bought her an iPad last Christmas, it’s very heavy and awkward compared to the Kindle for this use. I will say that the iPad was probably the best gift I’ve ever given her, since she uses it continuously, and loves it like a child.

      2. Yeah, without e-ink it’s just a smaller lower resolution iPad. It’s not a great reader like the original Kindle. Also the reviews I’ve read says it doesn’t even do video well.

    1. The Nook player is a better book reader than the Amazon Kindle Fire. Reading on the Fire can’t compare with the original Kindle e-ink screen. Reading magazine on the Fire? – forget it, you have to constantly zoom in and out. I think the Fire will burn Amazon’s fingers terribly.

  4. I’m generally not a fan of these extrapolation exercises that analysts love to spew in the absence of actual data, but it is interesting to note that the one star reviews for the Fire are 3x that of the Kindle. As much as people want to claim it isn’t an iPad competitor, people still carry expectations of the iPad into their purchase. Too bad for Amazon.

    1. Amazon doesn’t release sales numbers for its Kindle products. Ever. So are you saying that people should just not comment on Kindle? Kindle advocates certainly haven’t.

      Btw, the article was written by a journalist who did his own research, not an “analyst.” The journalist discussed his methodology as well as its limitations.

    2. I think the biggest problem for the Fire was Amazon ever evening hinting that it be compared to an iPad. They should have stressed a comparison to the Nook Color. The fire can’t hold a candle to the iPad.

  5. There’s a report of a “Battle” between the Kindle Fire and the iPad for supremacy in tablets in Forbes this morning.

    I didn’t read anything but the headline. Sort of like a “Battle” between the Saint Louis Cardinals and the Toledo Mudhens for domination of baseball.

  6. Mom got one on Black Friday when we were at Sams Club for $198+tax (she just wouldn’t wait til Christmas or for a better deal). I set it up for her, but had a lot of trouble with the wifi connection. It would show connected, but as soon as I tried to go online in any form, it would drop the connection.

    Googled the problem, and found a lot of people experienced the same issue. For many, an upgrade of the OS from 6.0 to 6.1 fixed the problem, but if you couldn’t get online to download it, the manual process of downloading to a computer, saving it to a usb drive, and then uploading it to the KF would challenge some people like my 69 year old mother who just wanted to read books and play some games. Happily, I set the KF down right next to the router and it successfully downloaded the OS update which resolved the wifi issues for her KF. If not, it would definitely had gone back to Sams the next day.

    1. Why? To prove that we’re people of low quality?

      As an Apple shareholder, I hope Bongo-types aren’t posting similar messages on RIM, Android and Amazon websites.

  7. Considering the objective flaws of the Fire, it’s very likely that 100% of the 5-star reviews are bogus.

    Because seriously, is anybody honestly going to give an absolutely perfect score to a touchscreen tablet that, among other things, will ignore touch input fairly often?

    I’m thinking, no.

  8. Wow, a LOT of butthurt iPad users here. Sad. The fire fills a void, not everyone needs an iPad’s abilities. Get over it. I’m an Apple fan but come on people, get real.

    1. Butthurt?

      Most folks here just like to revel in the fact that our stuff works great, and laugh at the foolishness around us. Calling it butthurt to laugh at the rest of the world is a little backwards.

      You’re an Apple fan? I didn’t know Apple even MADE fans.

  9. A good friend (female moderately tech-savvy) has a MacBook Pro, my old original iPad, an iPhone 4, a new Apple TV, and a “standard” Kindle. She surprised me by purchasing a Fire recently, which she loves despite the drawbacks; I gently suggested this might not be such a great idea.

    HOWEVER the thing is that she already has a $79-per-year Amazon Prime account, and VERY much wants to use the “Amazon Instant Video” feature on a tablet; so the $199 for the Fire actually makes all kinds of sense for her in this situation.

    1. From Amazon’s website: “Customers who have not used Prime instant videos over the past year will automatically be given a free month of Amazon Prime when they first activate their Kindle Fire.” Amazon also says in a bullet point: “Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle – same as an iPad”

      So Amazon is giving a free month to people who haven’t used the service within a year.. that leaves your friend out of that benefit. There are alternatives to Amazon Prime. And if she’s obsessed with Amazon Prime she can use the Media Buddy application ( ) to convert Amazon Instant Video to be iPad compatible.

      There is absolutely no sense at all that can be made in buying a terribly shoddy piece of machinery and horrendous user experience named Fire.

      And btw… your friend is not fucking tech-savvy. Being “tech-savvy” and buying a Kindle Fire do not mix..

      … and that funny bullet point on Amazon’s site with the words “same as an iPad” in it… lol. That was funny.

      1. Well, if being “fucking tech-savvy” includes acting like a pretentious, conceited, crude and rude pompous ass, then you certainly qualify for “fucking tech-savvy”. Schmuck.

  10. RE: P.E.D. reports, “Using 90% of the 13.3% one-star reviews as rough measure, this suggests that nearly half a million of the estimated 3.9 million Kindles to be shipped this quarter will be returned.”

    The other estimated 3.4 million Kindle users don’t know how to return it or are waiting to be disappointed on Christmas

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