Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire estimated to play distant second fiddle to Apple’s market-dominating iPad

Supposedly, Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets during the last three months of 2011, according to a preliminary projection from the IHS iSuppli Display Materials & Systems Service from information and analysis provider IHS.

“Nearly two years after Apple Inc. rolled out the iPad, a competitor has finally developed an alternative which looks like it might have enough of Apple’s secret sauce to succeed,” said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager, tablet and monitor research for IHS, in the press release. “Initial market response strongly suggests that Amazon, with the Kindle Fire, has found the right combination of savvy pricing, astute marketing, accessible content and an appropriate business model, positioning the Kindle Fire to appeal to a brand-new set of media tablet buyers. The production plans make it clear that Amazon is betting big on the product.”

MacDailyNews Take: Please see the Kindle Fire reviews below. Ms. Alexander might want to read some of them, too. The only “secret sauce” possessed by Kindle Fire sure didn’t come from Apple. Amazon, try some Kaopectate.

IHS’s estimate would give Amazon a 13.8% share of global media tablet shipments in Q411, exceeding the 4.8% held by No. 3 Samsung, and second only to Apple’s commanding 65.6% share of the market:

IHS Q411 Tablet Estimates

IHS now predicts global media tablet market shipments will amount to 64.7 million units in 2011, compared to the previous forecast issued in August of 60 million. The total shipment level represents 273 percent growth from 17.4 million units in 2010. The forecast for the following years also has been increased, with shipments expected to rise to 287.2 million in 2015, up from the previous forecast of 275.3 million:

IHS Tablet Market Estimates thru 2015

“At a rock bottom price of $199—which is less than the $201.70 it now costs to make the device—the Kindle Fire has created chaos in the Android tablet market,” Alexander said in the release. “Most other Android tablet makers must earn a profit based on hardware sales alone. In contrast, Amazon plans to use the Kindle Fire to drive sales of physical goods that comprise the majority of the company’s business. As long as this strategy is successful, the company can afford to take a loss on the hardware—while its Android competitors cannot.”

While Apple remains dominant in the media tablet market, speculation is rife that the company will respond to the Kindle Fire’s aggressive pricing with a lower-cost version of the iPad.

A far more likely scenario is that Apple also may reduce the pricing on the iPad 2 when the company introduces the iPad 3. This will provide a value alternative for entry-level users in the same way that the company continued to offer the iPhone 3 when it rolled out the iPhone 4. This approach would allow Apple to maintain its target profit margins on both the iPad 3 and the iPad 2, while offering end-users an ever-expanding family of products.

Source: IHS, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: We’ll iCal this, but if Amazon continues its practice of never disclosing Kindle unit sales, we’ll have nothing to compare it against. Basically, anyone could estimate Kindle Fire unit sales to be whatever they like, for whatever reason.

IHS’s press release also does not make mention of Kindle Fire returns which, based upon the following absolutely horrific reviews, are likely to be rather significant:

• Usability expert Jakob Nielsen tests Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: ‘A disappointingly poor user experience’ – December 5, 2011
Instapaper creator reviews Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: Bad game player, bad app platform, bad web browser, bad video player and bad Kindle – November 18, 2011
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

Related articles:
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
The Telegraph reviews Apple iPad 2: Does everything better; now’s the perfect time to join the iPad club – March 25, 2011
Computerworld reviews Apple’s iPad 2: ‘The Holy Grail of computing’ – March 16, 2011
Ars Technica reviews Apple iPad 2: Big performance gains in a slimmer package
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Pogue reviews Apple iPad 2: Thinner, lighter, and faster transforms the experience – March 10, 2011
Baig reviews Apple iPad 2: Second to none – March 10, 2011


  1. again the TINY screen issue or should I say

    two small to read magazines? Phaaf!!

    like I’ve said you can buy TWO Kindle Fires for the price of one iPad.

    Put them side by side and you’ll get the same real estate as an iPad and you can then read Magazines. Read the LEFT of the Magazine on one Kindle, read the RIGHT on the other! See problem SOLVED.

    (also as I’ve mentioned you can strap both Kindles to your head and get STEREO sound. Beats an iPod without expensive headphones).


  2. if your KID whines about getting an iPad (yuuck) for Christmas GIVE HIM A KINDLE FIRE INSTEAD and SAVE 200 bucks!

    All you have to do is slap a sticky Apple LOGO on the Kindle and the little tyke (if he’s like under 5) won’t know the difference!

    If the little fellow asks why Jimmy (the neighbour) ‘s iPad is LARGER just say it’s new (hush hush) prototype MINI iPAD.

    And if he still has complaints about the size tell him “remember uncle Bob’s sports car? Great huh? But SMALL! and mom’s diamond ring, it’s really TINY, so…. SMALLER IS BETTER!!”

    if the lttle fellow asks “my Mini iPad is SLOW! where’s the Games like Jimmy’s iPad?” say “Slow is Good. You can savor life more! Haven’t you heard Speed Kills? as for Games, tell him it’ll RETARD his GROWTH” See easy… you can fend off all questions.

    with the saved $200 you can hang out with your buddies at the SPORTS BAR.

    “AF you mean Bast*rd!” you say. Hardly! Don’t have kids myself but I’ll do it in a second. If those little tykes want to waste money on an … iPAAAAD.. shoot they can go GET A JOB.

  3. I wish someone would stop comparing this stripped down mini tablet to a iPad. IT WOULD GET IT’S BUT KICKED IF APPLE MADE A FAT iPod touch!! Apple needs to control the game here. Compare that turd to the features in the iPad touch. THAT IS WHERE THE BATTLE IS.

    If Amazon’s turd one day matches the iPad’s little cousin, THEN THE iPad CAN CRUSH IT! NOT BEFORE!

  4. Now, yah got yah thar Yugo and yah gots yah thar Ferari – weeell (sniff) my cousin, he is marred to my sistar, he done told me that the Yugo will take that thar Ferari an’y ol dey. Sooo, who neds that thar Ferari any ways! Hey, wanna beer?

  5. We may laugh, but over Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law asked for advice regarding what tablet to get her husband. She knew the iPad was best, but was strongly thinking about the Kindle Fire because it was so much cheaper. I informed her about the lackluster reviews. I also pointed out how an iPad could integrate with her husband’s iPhone, which he absolutely loves. She was leaning toward the 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad when I left.


  6. This is the bad news for Apple’s tablet competition, and good news for Apple. The relative “success” of Kindle Fire against iPad means the competition will stop trying (and failing) to match iPad (based on specs, features, and price)… instead, they will be trying to match Kindle Fire.

    Trying to match iPad has been a money-losing proposition, because it inevitably ends in a desperation fire sale. But trying to match Kindle Fire will be a money-losing proposition from DAY ONE. The more “successful” it is, the more money they lose. Meanwhile, Apple sells every iPad it makes, almost as soon as it is made, with the desired profit margin.

  7. Their secret sauce so far has been to distanvce the product from Android – they don’t use the Android name in marketing. Those buying this thing have no idea they are using Android with a Amazon customized overlay.

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