This holiday shopping season appears to belong to cheap tablets. Between the $199 Kindle Fire and the recently introduced $249 Nook Tablet, Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) are setting themselves up as the pivotal quarter's hot tech toymakers.

Weren't these two companies little more than unheralded booksellers a dozen years ago?

Both companies announced an impressive array of popular third-party apps that will be available on their entry-level gadgetry when they hit the market next week.

We still don't have official reads from either company, but Asia's DigiTimes -- the well-connected tech specialist that has a good pulse on component suppliers and contract manufacturers -- claims that Amazon has just boosted its Kindle Fire order to 5 million units for the quarter. If true, it means the pre-orders leading to Tuesday's release are clearly going well.

Briefly in the news
And now let's take a quick look at some of the other stories that shaped our week.

  • E*TRADE (Nasdaq: ETFC) revealed on Thursday afternoon that the discount broker is no longer seeking a sale of the company after a strategic review. I blame the E*TRADE Baby.
  • SINA's (Nasdaq: SINA) adjusted revenue climbed 21% in its latest quarter, though the Chinese dot-com's profitability fell sharply as it invests in ramping up its popular Weibo microblogging website.
  • Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) announced a Foster the People concert in New York City exclusively for invited SiriusXM listeners. I wonder whether the satellite-radio giant knows the band's biggest song is about a classroom massacre.
  • Graphics-chip pioneer NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA) posted better-than-expected results on Thursday night. Looking good!
  • DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH) shed 111,000 net subscribers in its latest quarter, but it did declare a one-time dividend of $2 a share. Is this some new DISH satellite-television promotion?

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of SINA, NVIDIA, and Amazon.com and writing puts in NVIDIA. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He owns no shares in any of the stocks in this story and is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.