Amazon Kindle Fire Legit iPad Contender: ChangeWave

Research from ChangeWave and RBC Capital Markets shows some consumers will buy an Amazon Kindle Fire before they'll buy an iPad.

Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire tablet is set to launch Nov. 15, and evidence is rolling in that the 7-inch custom Android slate could give Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad some competition at the lower end of tablet sales.

Some 5 percent of 2,600 people polled by ChangeWave Research and RBC Capital Markets said they had either preordered or were "very likely" to buy the Kindle Fire, compared with 4 percent who said that they were very likely to buy the seminal iPad in 2010.

Some 12 percent of respondents said they were "somewhat likely" to buy the Fire, besting the 9 percent who said the same thing about the first iPad, according to the survey, as cited by the AllThingDigital blog.

Getting more granular, some 26 percent of that 5 percent who said they had preordered or would very likely buy the Fire said they would delay acquiring an iPad to buy the Fire. That's both good and bad for Amazon and the Android tablet market on the whole.

It's good because it means people are interested in buying the Fire, but it's also bad because it indicates that the Fire is not necessarily the be-all, end-all tablet for consumers that the iPad has become en route to selling over 32 million units.

What it may point to is consumer perception that the Fire is a supplementary media tablet, perhaps underscored by the device's $199 price tag relative to the more premium-priced iPad, which starts at $499. Consumers with the means may purchase both the Fire and the iPad. Even so, RBC Capital Markets' Mike Abramsky sees potential in the Fire.

"Tablet contenders (Xoom, Galaxy Tab, PlayBook, etc.) have failed to gain appreciable traction against iPad's estimated 67 percent share, and iPad 2 should be a popular holiday purchase," he wrote in a research note. "However, strong early Fire uptake seems likely, raising speculation Apple now faces a real tablet contender."

Amazon Nov. 9 also made a point to showcase applications that will be available on the Kindle Fire at launch. They include Facebook, Pandora for music, games from Electronic Arts, Zynga and Rovio, and even Netflix. Yes, the Amazon Instant Video rival will be available on the Kindle Fire to provide consumers more TV and movie choices.

"We're excited to team up with Amazon to give what we think will be a huge community of Kindle Fire owners the opportunity to experience all that Netflix has to offer," said Bill Holmes, vice president of business development at Netflix. "We're certain that our members will have a great viewing experience on Kindle Fire."

And we're fairly certain that the pent-up demand and hype machine will lead to Amazon selling anywhere from 3 million to 5 million Kindle Fire tablets before Jan. 1-or in just six weeks.

Of course, the Kindle Fire and iPad may see competition from Barnes & Noble's new $249 Nook Tablet, which runs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread).