This holiday shopping season appears to belong to cheap tablets. Between the $199 Kindle Fire and the recently introduced $249 Nook Tablet, (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

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.