Amazon (NASDAQ:AMAZN) could sell anywhere between 4.5 million to 5 million Kindle Fire tablets, according to channel checks with supply chain vendors conducted by financial research concern J.P. Morgan.
The 7-inch, Android-based tablet won't grace consumers' hands until Nov. 15, but pre-order sales are painting a rosy picture for the slate geared to take some of Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPPL) massive iPad media tablet market share.
J.P. Morgan analyst Douglas Anmuth is calling for 5 million Kindle Fires to reach consumers' hands in Q4. Like others tracking Amazon's movements, Anmuth also expects to see 7 and 10-inch units and models with 3G radios in addition to Wi-Fi in early 2012.
That the Kindle Fire is in hot demand isn't so surprising. Within days, Amazon.com lit up with pre-sales, tallying anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 pre-orders a day, if these data leaks are to be trusted.
Anmuth's bullishness contrasts sharply to commentary from Anmuth's colleague Mark Moskowitz, who was unimpressed by the Kindle Fire because he believes it pales in comparison to the more feature, rich, user friendly Apple iPad.
Specifically, the Kindle Fire lacks a camera and a microphone, has only 8GB of internal storage and no 3G mobile broadband access. He also said the Kindle Fire's screen is too small for content viewing compared to the 9.7-inch screen real estate of the iPads. Finally, he pointed to the slate's $199 price point as evidence of an inferior offering to the iPad.
"In our view, Kindle Fire's low price point speaks to how there is much lacking in the device," Moskowitz wrote in a research note Sept. 30. "At $199, we argue that the price point is not going to afford most users a tablet experience, which is a problem if Amazon wants to become a major tablet vendor. Until we see how the Kindle Fire evolves, we are comfortable stating that the emergence of a major two-tablet vendor remains elusive."
Whether it's the price point, Amazon's strong brand, or simply the advertising it does on its Website promoting the Kindle Fire (or all three factors), consumers don't seem to care, as they are pre-ordering the slate in droves.
Who can blame them, really? If there is a recession brewing (some say it has been brewed), $199 for a smaller, good-enough alternative to the premium iPad must seem like a bargain to many holiday shoppers this year.
The question now must be whether or not Amazon can make enough Kindle Fires to ship this holiday season. The company has had supply issues in the past. Anything less than a stellar launch Nov. 15 sans hiccups will be detrimental to the Kindle Fire, which has the chance to be the first fantastic-selling Android slate out of the gate.
Even so, there are over 32 million iPads floating around the world and Apple expects to have a strong holiday season sales cycle as well. This tablet war is just getting started.
Meanwhile, ViewSonic is looking to challenge the Kindle Fire's price point with its own $200 tablet, the ViewPad 7e, which pairs Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" with the company's ViewScene 3D interface to bring holographic visual effects to the tablet's homescreen.