Amazon’s Kindle Fire has been nothing short of a monstrous success. The device ruled the web during the biggest shopping season of the year in 2011, and took a huge chunk of the overall tablet market despite being available for only six weeks (almost seven) before the calendar closed out. So just how much of the tablet market does Amazon own now? According to the research firm, iSuppli, around 14%.
Disrupting sales of Apple’s iPad has been no easy feat. Despite releases from nearly every major name in the business, Android manufacturers have struggled to put a dent in Apple’s market share thus far. For Amazon, it was a breeze. In the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple’s tablet market share slipped from 63% in the third quarter to 57%, while Amazon and the Kindle Fire managed to capture 14% in just over six weeks. Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads, while Amazon shipped 3.9 million Kindle Fires. Of course, shipments are not the same as sales, but the popularity of both devices would put those numbers as pretty accurate estimates.
So just how did Amazon do it? They have two key pieces to the puzzle that other Android manufacturers lack: a name consumers trust and the means to make up for any money lost on cheap hardware. Kindle is a recognizable name. Samsung’s Galaxy line of devices is also recognizable, but still nowhere near the level of the Kindle or iProducts. And manufacturers like Samsung can’t use devices like the Galaxy Tab to sell content for a profit like Amazon. They have to sell Galaxy Tabs for a premium because once it sells, Samsung is done making money on it. When consumers buy a Kindle Fire for $200, Amazon doesn’t start making money until users start buying books, music, movies and whatever else Amazon has available – which is usually as soon as the Kindle Fire is turned on.
As the iPad 3 nears release, and rumors of several different larger Kindle Fires in the pipeline continue to heat up (pun intended), it will be interesting to see how the tablet market changes this year. If I was a betting man, I’d definitely put money on Amazon’s success. 14% is only the beginning.