Kindle Fire sales strong in Q4, but no match for iPad

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordon Rohan says Amazon might have sold 6 million Kindle Fire tablets last quarter.

The Kindle Fire's fourth-quarter sales are stronger than expected, says one analyst.
The Kindle Fire's fourth-quarter sales are stronger than previously expected, analysts say. Amazon

Amazon's Kindle Fire has been called the iPad's best competitor. And if one analyst's estimate on the tablet's sales is true, it might just be.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan wrote to investors last night, saying that he has revised his fourth-quarter Kindle Fire sales estimate to 6 million units. The analyst previously believed Amazon sold 5 million Kindle Fire units during the fourth quarter.

"Kindle Fire has staked out an important market position due to its loyal Amazon customer base and attractive (low) device pricing," Rohan wrote to investors.

Rohan isn't the only analyst who's bullish on Kindle Fire sales. Earlier this month, Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente revised his Kindle Fire sales estimate up from 4.5 million units to 5.5 million .

Amazon's Kindle Fire came on the scene in a big way late last year, appealing to customers who wanted a decent tablet at a cheaper price. The Android-based slate comes with a 7-inch screen and includes support for Amazon's many integrated services, such as Kindle e-books and Prime Instant Video. And for $199, it's dramatically cheaper than the industry's top tablet, Apple's iPad.

Speaking of Apple's tablet, as impressive as the Kindle Fire's sales might have been last quarter, they paled in comparison to the iPad's. Last week, Apple announced that it sold 15.43 million iPads during the fourth quarter, jumping 111 percent over the prior year. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, those sales helped Apple secure 57.6 percent of the tablet market last quarter , easily outpacing Android's 39.1 percent share on 10.5 million shipments.

If Rohan's estimates are true, that would mean Amazon's Kindle Fire accounted for over half of all Android tablet shipments last quarter.

Of course, Amazon likely won't confirm that. The e-retail giant has historically been loath to provide unit-sales figures, and has given no indication that will change. Last month, the company said that it sold more than 1 million Kindles per week in December, but failed to break out sales by device.

That said, Amazon plans to announce fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow. With any luck, the company might offer more insight into Kindle sales at that time.

 

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