Amazon's Kindle Fire and Apple's iPad apparently enjoyed strong early sales heading into their holiday battle.
Amazon claims the Kindle Fire has become its bestselling product. The 7-inch tablet was made available for preorder Sept. 28, with the first units shipping Nov. 14.
That being said, the company maintained its traditional reluctance to part with actual sales data, although it did acknowledge in a Nov. 28 press release
that "customers purchased 4X as many Kindle devices as they did last Black Friday."
Meanwhile, Apple's iPad may have enjoyed an uptick in Black Friday sales, according to an analyst.
"Apple stores were selling 68 percent more iPads per hour on a [year-over-year] basis, directionally consistent with our estimates of 13.5 [million] units in the Dec-11 quarter," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a Nov. 28 research note. "Our checks are consistent with comScore data, which indicated that Apple's online store saw double-digit [year-over-year] growth in traffic, and ShopperTrak, which saw overall Black Fri. retail sales up 6.6 [year-over-year]."
In other words, neither tablet-which many pundits and media outlets have positioned as competitors ready to fight it out toe-to-toe for holiday dollars-experienced an unexpected flagging in sales over one of the busiest selling periods of the year. The question now is whether the Kindle Fire can maintain its momentum in the longer term, and by doing so challenge Apple's longtime lock on the consumer tablet market.
Previous data has suggested Apple could face something of a battle. Earlier in November, shopping and reviews Website Retrevo.com sampled some 1,000 online individuals about their opinion of the Kindle Fire. Of those surveyed, some 44 percent said they would consider purchasing a "7-inch tablet made by Amazon" over Apple's iPad 2. Another 44 percent said they "didn't know enough about the Amazon tablet" to make that decision, and 12 percent said "they'd still buy an iPad."
Over the previous year, other tablets have entered the market as "iPad killers" only to crash and burn on a bonfire of anemic sales and poor reviews. Ahead of the Kindle Fire's release, Apple executives apparently told Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes that Amazon's tablet would only reinforce some of the same issues-most notably, operating-system fragmentation-that had caused many of those rivals to flame out.
"The more fragmentation, the better, says Apple, since that could drive more consumers to the stable Apple platform," he wrote, as quoted by Business Insider
. "We believe that Apple will get more aggressive on price with the iPad eventually but not compromise the product quality and experience."
The Kindle Fire features a heavily modified Android interface, one that facilitates the purchasing of streaming content and e-books from Amazon's online storefront. With that tight Amazon integration come certain advantages, to wit, the tablet can heavily leverage both the Kindle's branding and the online retailer's enormous marketing apparatus.
Whether that will eventually allow the Kindle Fire to compete with the iPad as the preeminent consumer tablet remains an open question at this early stage, but Amazon's claiming that all signs so far are good.
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