It wasn’t long ago that we were reporting on the amazing success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet and stating that the device had actually managed to impact the sales of Apple’s iPad over the Christmas season. With 4.8 million Kindle Fire tablets reaching consumer hands in the final quarter of 2011, it looked like Amazon may just be a force to be reckoned with in that arena.
It seems that force wouldn’t last, however. According to IDC’s review of worldwide tablet shipments for Q1 of 2012, sales of the Kindle Fire have dropped dramatically to just 750,000 units. This represents a switch in market share from 16.8 percent down to just over 4 percent –placing Amazon in third place behind Samsung among tablet vendors (a race led handily by Apple with 68 percent of the market share).
Certainly manufacturers expect to ship fewer units outside of the holiday season than within, but that kind of nosedive is significant. The Kindle Fire, which Amazon fondly calls “the #1 bestselling, most gifted, and most wished for product” seems to be losing ground fast.
The reasons for the downward turn are not entirely clear though it shouldn’t be forgotten that as many people were buying Kindle Fire tablets last year, nobody had really had a chance to play with one beforehand. Launched late in the fall and delivered just in time to be wrapped and put under the tree, most of these purchases were ‘on spec’ –causing me to wonder if people ended up being disappointed by them instead of wowed.
Either way, Amazon is will have to carefully consider their next move. With Apple establishing a schedule that deliveres a new version of the iPad each year, many are going to be looking toward the Kindle Fire later this year to see what’s next. Updates to the operating system aside, Amazon is going to have to step up their game if they want to compete (with a 10″ version of their device perhaps?).