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Kindle Fire cutting into consumer appetite for iPad--survey

Two reports today suggest that Apple will face stiff competition from Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire tablet.

Amazon's Kindle Fire is already beginning to eat into iPad sales, according to a survey.
Amazon's Kindle Fire is already beginning to eat into iPad sales, according to a survey

Two research notes this week suggest that Amazon's forthcoming Kindle Fire tablet might slow the heady sales growth of Apple's iPad.

The first is from a survey conducted by ChangeWave, as reported on a Fortune blog.

Five percent of respondents said they have preordered a Kindle Fire or are very likely to purchase soon, according to the survey. That compares favorably with the iPad 2 launch, when 4 percent of respondents said they were very likely to buy the iPad 2.

Among those 5 percent, 26 percent said they will delay the purchase of Apple's iPad.

The survey also says demand for the Kindle Fire, due to launch on November 15 at a price of $199, exceeds that of the iPad 2.

The ChangeWave results are based on a survey of 2,600 respondents conducted in October.

The Kindle Fire is considered the first viable threat to the iPad because it will cost $300 less than Apple's least expensive model, yet offers many of the attributes of a higher-end tablet. These would include a dual-core processor, a fast Web browser, a relatively high-quality display, and access to lots of Amazon content.

This presents a near-term risk to Apple, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky, since more than a quarter of those buying Amazon's tablet are indicating they prefer it to the iPad.

Data provided by market researcher eDataSource last month indicated that the preorders for the Kindle Fire are tracking to exceed one million.

And eDataSource CEO Carter Nicholas provided some updated data to CNET this week. Direct sales through Amazon are now projected at 500,000 from September 28 through October 28, according to Nicholas.

But Nicholas quickly added that he believes that for every unit sold on there's also a unit being sold to a Best Buy or Staples, possibly putting the initial numbers at 1 million to 1.5 million, he told CNET.

Amazon announced on November 8 that the new Kindle family would be available at more than 16,000 retail locations in the U.S. on November 15, including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Staples, Sam's Club, RadioShack, and Office Depot.

A separate report this week from Rodman & Renshaw's Ashok Kumar claims that iPad momentum is slowing. "Our checks indicate that production volumes have been scaled back due to moderating sell-through. We estimate that iPad volumes in the current quarter will be 12-13 million units," down from previous estimates of 14 million to 15 million, Kumar wrote.

Amazon is expected to ship upwards of 4 million Kindle Fire tablets in the current quarter, Kumar said.

Updated on November 11 at 9:30 p.m. PST: adding comments from eDataSource CEO Carter Nicholas.