Despite selling a healthy 15.4 million iPads in the final quarter of 2011, IHS iSuppli reckons that Apple’s share of the tablet slipped from 64% at the end of Q3 to 57% by the end of the year, with Amazon’s Kindle Fire gaining the most traction.
The research firm says that Amazon clocked just under 3.9 million Kindle Fire sales in the six weeks running up to Christmas, giving it a 14.3% share of the tablet market, putting it ahead of Samsung, previously Apple's closest tablet rival. IHS iSuppli says that Samsung shipped 2.1 million tablets during the last quarter, for an 8% share, down from the 11% share (with 1.85 million shipments) in Q3.
Slightly further back sat Taiwanese tablet vendor Asus, which also suffered from the introduction of the Kindle Fire. The firm’s tablet shipments hit 810,000 in the summer but fell to 612,000 in the fall for a market share of around 2%, while Barnes & Noble fared better – growing from 750,000 shipments in Q3 (4% market share) to 1.92 million (7%) in Q4.
The research group admitted that it has been a “respectable start” for the Kindle Fire and, ironically, placed Apple’s new iPhone 4S smartphone as the biggest competitor to the iPad. “The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers' disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets,” said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager for tablet and monitor research at IHS.
The Kindle Fire was introduced back in October for a respectable $199, a surprising figure at the time when it was gathered that Amazon would actually be making a loss of each device. Amazon’s strategy around the tablet resolves around driving new merchandise sales – a “business gamble”, according to Alexander.
This news that Amazon already holds second place in the tablet market may come as a surprise to some consumers, but not to a couple of researchers – including IHS iSuppli – which predicted that the Fire would hold the number two spot by the end of 2011.