Shipments of 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter of calendar 2011 gave Apple a commanding 58 percent of the market, while Amazon's Kindle Fire helped heat up Android tablet shipments to a record 39 percent, according to one analysis.
With Apple's iPad continuing to dominate the tablet market, total tablet sales in the U.S. nearly doubled to 19 percent ownership among adults after the holiday shopping season, according to a new report.
Orders for Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet will reportedly be cut in half to 3 million units in the first quarter of 2012, with slower post-holiday sales and the anticipated launch of Apple's third-generation iPad.
Despite the fact that Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet is based on Google's Android operating system, sources within the supply chain claim Google plans to become the Fire's biggest competitor with the release of a low-margin own-brand tablet early this year.
Growing interest in 7-inch tablets from Amazon and Barnes & Noble has led to a spike in panel shipments even as Apple is believed to be drawing down production of the iPad 2 in preparation for its next-generation tablet, resulting in reports that 7-inch orders have briefly surpassed those of 9.7-inch panels.
With Amazon's new Kindle Fire tablet drawing criticisms from consumers and reviewers alike, the online retailer has revealed a software update will arrive in a couple weeks to address some user complaints.
Sales estimates for Apple's iPad were slashed by 1 million units for 4Q11 due to a strong Kindle Fire launch, but iPhone sales pick up slack with domestic and international demand driving a 1.5 million increase on previous figures.
Dell has thrown in the towel on its last Android-based Streak tablets in the US as new analysts step forward to note that Apple's only competition in tablets is coming from Amazon, although saying it is "needing to do so by selling at cost."
Amazon's new Kindle Fire represents the company's first device to move beyond black and white ebook readers and into the realm of apps, music, videos and magazines, delivered using a color touchscreen.