Windows 8 Could Benefit from Kindle Fire Sales: Analyst

By Nicholas Kolakowski  |  Posted 2012-02-16 Print this article Print

Windows 8 could benefit from Kindle Fire sales driving other Android manufacturers to look for a tablet OS alternative, suggests a new analyst report.

Microsoft€™s Windows 8 stands to benefit from solid sales of Amazon€™s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble€™s Nook Tablet, according to a new report from research firm IHS.

That report notes Apple€™s shipments of 15.4 million iPads during the fourth quarter of 2011, and estimates that Amazon came in second with 3.9 million Kindle Fire units.

In a Feb. 16 note, IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander termed those Kindle Fire shipments a €œrespectable start,€ adding that €œthe long-term viability of the product will hinge on the success of Amazon€™s business gamble, which depends on tablet sales driving substantial new online merchandise sales at in order to attain profitability.€

Respectable start or no, low prices for both the Kindle Fire ($199) and Barnes & Noble€™s Nook Tablet ($249) are apparently having a ripple effect on other Android tablets on the market. €œThe surge in non-iPad shipments in the fourth quarter was achieved at considerable financial cost,€ she wrote, €œwith sharp price reductions across most of the competing Android tablets and actual product giveaways from a number of vendors as part of promotional efforts for other electronic products.€

Those price reductions, in turn, could benefit Microsoft as it preps to enter the market segment in a big way with its Windows 8 tablets. €œIn the wake of the new low bar for pricing set by the Fire and the Nook and the looming Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility,€ the firm€™s note continued, €œmanufacturers and branded vendors are looking to Windows 8 tablets as a more profitable alternative.€ It predicts those Windows 8 tablets will hit the market in late 2012 and early 2013, which fits with other analysts' predictions.

Although the Kindle Fire has become a bona fide competitor to the iPad, Apple has been careful to downplay its potential on the tablet market. €œPrice is rarely the important thing,€ Apple CEO Tim Cook said during a Feb. 14 keynote at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, according to an edited transcript provided by Fortune. €œI think people at the end of the day, they want a great product.€

He conceded that Amazon€™s Kindle Fire would ultimately sell a lot of units€”while adding that €œthe customers that we€™re designing our products for, are not going to be satisfied with a limited-function kind of product.€

But as Microsoft is making clear in presentation after presentation, Windows 8 tablets will not be limited-function devices. They will feature modified versions of Office, include the ability to run apps, and almost certainly hit the market at a competitive price-point. And if the Kindle Fire somehow drives more tablet customers into Microsoft€™s waiting arms, however indirectly, it could end up having more of an effect on the iPad than Cupertino would probably like to admit. 

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Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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