The Fire Tablet’s Sudden Surge

Pushed by the popularity of the $50 Fire, Amazon saw tablet business grow faster than anyone else during the holiday sales season, with 5.2 million units shipped and year-over-year growth over 175 percent, according to new numbers released by IDC.

All in, Amazon has moved into third place in the global tablet market, trailing only Samsung and Apple. That is a big bounce considering Amazon didn’t even crack the top five the quarter before.

However cheery the news today (Feb. 2), however, IDC did also note that blue tablet skies of quite this shade are unlikely to hold for Amazon going forward.

“Amazon’s success in the tablet market has, thus far, been purely based on price,” the research firm says in a news release about the numbers. “While this bodes well during the holiday season, it’s unlikely the Kindle’s success will continue in the remainder of the year.”

Amazon has enjoyed big holiday spikes in the past — as lower cost tablets tend to be popular gifts — only to lose out to the more expensive Samsung and iPad tablets.

Hence the somewhat unflattering nickname the Fire has picked up: the “fruitcake of tablets.”

The price for the Fire tablet was so low that Amazon sold a six pack for $250, which is less than the price of the cheapest iPad.

Amazon hasn’t put any hard numbers on it, as usual, but did note during its earnings call last week that the Fire tablet “has been the #1 best-selling, most gifted and most wished-for product across all items available on since its introduction 19 weeks ago.”

Amazon, of course, does not really want to be a device company, per se, and instead views things like tablets as an integral part of the “Amazon Doctrine.”

“We want to make money when people use our devices, not when they buy our devices,” Bezos explained at a 2012 news conference.


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