Several analysts who track consumer electronics sales say that sales of the Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) Kindle Fire are already into the hundreds of thousands. The 7-inch tablet may not be the flagship of the Kindle series for long. Jeff Bezos is too clever and ambitious not to make a full assault on Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad, which has a screen size of 9.7 inches and a processor that many reviewers say is more powerful than the Fire’s.
The current Kindle Fire is unlikely to have sales that approach anywhere near what Apple may sell in this quarter — 20 million units or more. But Amazon has built an infrastructure of content and apps, as experts have already pointed out. That is the first part of the e-commerce company’s move against Apple, which has the most complete software infrastructure in the industry for both the iPad and iPhone.
All of the competitors for the iPad are based on large displays. The best example is the Samsung, with its 10.1 inch size. It has nearly every feature the iPad does, but lacks the tens of thousands of apps the Apple store has and Apple’s massive body of content — both music and video. Amazon does not have the large display, but it does have the balance of what it needs to offer a complete software/content/hardware system.
Amazon will not launch a full-sized tablet PC this year. It is too late for the holiday season. And the iPhone 5 launch will dominate the consumer electronics product cycle. But no doubt Bezos has a larger tablet on his drawing board, or perhaps further along than that. He knows the real volume is in combining his e-commerce and digital media prowess with an iPad sized screen.
Douglas A. McIntyre