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Wednesday, December 29, 2010, 12:55 pm PT (03:55 pm ET)

Report: Apple slows iPad production, Kindle matches shipments

Shipments of Amazon's Kindle from suppliers in Taiwan reached 1.6 million units in December, matching the month's estimated iPad production, although Apple is ramping down to accommodate the coming new version, a new report says.

According to a new report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Equity Research, Apple has shifted iPad production from an estimated 2.1 million units in November to just 1.6 million in December in order to prepare for the launch of revised new tablet, expected to be announced in January.

This shift enabled Kindle production to match that of rapidly selling iPad for the month, indicating, Kuo wrote, that "Kindle is going to mass market from niche market," and that "iPad cannibalization of Kindle is not obvious."

Kindle shipments are expected to reach 4.5 million units in the first quarter of 2011, Kuo said. Global ebook reader sales have reached 12.1 million units, and are expected to reach 27 million next year. It's not clear if this number includes the iPad, which has already itself sold more than 7 million units in its first two quarters and is expected to sell another 5 to 10 million in the final winter quarter.

Amazon has been cautious about revealing sales numbers for its Kindle, but Kuo estimates the company has sold 5.4 million units this year since it improved the units' e-ink display with a higher quality "pearl" screen and discounted its price.

Amazon's chief executive Jeff Bezos claimed in a recent press release that the Kindle was selling well as the company's most popular online product. He also deflected reports of Apple's iPad destroying the Kindle's market by saying many users were buying both.

Kuo previously covered Apple-related research among Taiwan's component producers for Digitimes.