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Finally, Some Numbers For Amazon's Kindle Fire

Since (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) simply won't give us a number on its Kindle Fire shipments, CEO Jeff Bezos really leaves us no choice but to play guessing games with third-party sources. That also happens to be a habit that rival bookseller and tablet purveyor Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS  ) picked up on too. Tablet top dog Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) is one of the few players that isn't coy about handing out its digits, but when you're king of the hill, who wouldn't want to flaunt figures like these?

iSuppli has released its latest batch of estimates on the state of the tablet market as of the fourth quarter. The market-intelligence specialist estimates that Amazon shipped 3.9 million Fire tablets in that timeframe, promptly jumping to claim the silver medal with a 14% market share.

Source: iSuppli.

The overall market grew from 17.4 million units to 27.1 million units, a 55% bigger pie. Apple's shipments grew 39% to 15.4 million, but that growing base made Cupertino's market share slip. Samsung's 2.1 million tabs moved was just an 8% increase, while B&N's units soared by 156% to 1.9 million tablets on the heels of its new Nook Tablet.

Interestingly, iSuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander said Apple's biggest competitor was itself, as the iPhone 4S launch provided a competitor for prospective buyers' disposable dollars. Alexander attributed the surge in Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android tablets to the Fire and Nook, since other Android players were forced to cut prices to compete, helping to spur sales.

The researcher expects the iPad 3 demand to outstrip supply for several months once its released. With price competition heating up in the Android arena and threatening profitability, iSuppli expects vendors to start considering Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Windows 8 more seriously, and thinks the tablet market will see a slew of Windows 8 and ARM Holdings-based tablets hit the market late this year.

Total tablet shipments for 2011 came out to 65.2 million, topping the company's forecast of 64.7 million. Compare that to the 17.4 million overall shipments in 2010 and you'll see 274% growth – in other words, shipments nearly quadrupled.

This wave is just getting started, and shows how the mobile revolution will be the biggest shift in computing in generations. You won't want to miss out on this rush, and one of the best ways to profit on it is component suppliers. The Motley Fool has just released a new special free report, "3 Hidden Winners of the iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution" that names three suppliers of critical components inside these gadgets. You don't want to miss this -- get your free copy now.

Fool contributor Evan Niu owns shares of ARM Holdings,, and Apple, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned. Click here to see his holdings and a short bio. 

The Motley Fool owns shares of, Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google,, Microsoft, and Apple; creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft; and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (6)

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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2012, at 1:43 AM, iknoerle wrote:

    Why isn't Apple's iPod touch considered a tablet? What is the cutoff size? I think the market should break off tablets sizes around 9 inches. Those above should be computer tablets and those below portable tablets cause the iPad is really in a different size class then the kindle. Smartphones and the kindle are computers but they aren't what people think of as computers because of their size.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2012, at 1:48 AM, gslusher wrote:

    Just how did iSuppli arrive at the numbers for the Kindle Fire? Most were probably sold directly by Amazon, which, as the author said, isn't talking. Every scientist and poll-taker knows about error bars. Here, the error bar would be almost as large as the estimate, itself. iSuppli could be off by 50%, maybe more. They really should have said, "Somewhere between 1000 and 100 million." They really don't know it much more accurately than that.

    Unless and until iSuppli reveals their methodology and their data (and the sources of that data), their numbers are worse than useless. I said worse because they can deceive people.

  • Report this Comment On February 18, 2012, at 11:36 AM, leonhart03 wrote:

    And then you have to consider how many people returned that underperforming pile of junk, too. I'm sure that had some consequence to the numbers.

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