Windows 8 could benefit from Kindle Fire sales driving other Android manufacturers to look for a tablet OS alternative, suggests a new analyst report.
Microsofts Windows 8 stands to benefit from solid sales of
Amazons Kindle Fire and Barnes & Nobles Nook Tablet, according to a new
report from research firm IHS.
That report notes Apples 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 respectable start, adding that the long-term
viability of the product will hinge on the success of Amazons business gamble,
which depends on tablet sales driving substantial new online merchandise sales
at Amazon.com in order to attain profitability.
Respectable start or no, low prices for both the Kindle Fire
($199) and Barnes & Nobles Nook Tablet ($249) are apparently having a
ripple effect on other Android tablets on the market. The surge in non-iPad
shipments in the fourth quarter was achieved at considerable financial cost,
she wrote, with 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.
In 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 firms note
continued, manufacturers 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'
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. Price 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. I think people at the end of the day, they
want a great product.
He conceded that Amazons Kindle Fire would ultimately sell
a lot of unitswhile adding that the customers that were designing our
products for, are not going to be satisfied with a limited-function kind of
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 Microsofts waiting arms, however
indirectly, it could end up having more of an effect on the iPad than Cupertino
would probably like to admit.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
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.