According to Amazon, the Kindle Fire led the Kindle line to record-breaking sales of 4 million devices over the holiday season. You have to think that at least some of those shoppers opted for the Fire in lieu of an iPad, and one investment bank says that’s exactly what happened.
Analyst Tavis McCourt at Morgan Keegan said in a note to investors today that the Amazon Kindle Fire robbed Apple of 1 million to 2 million iPad sales. He had been estimating about 16 million iPads sold in the quarter, but downgraded that to 13 million.
That’s still many more iPads sold than Kindles — even including the E Ink devices, so Apple isn’t exactly threatened. But the iPad’s market position is so dominant among tablet devices — a recent report from comScore said it accounted for 97% of all Web traffic on tablets — that its market share has nowhere to go but down.
Also working against the iPad is that it’s not a new device. The iPad 2 was introduced last March while the Kindle Fire came out in November 2011, priced to sell as a hot holiday item at $199 (the iPad starts at $499). Many tech-savvy buyers are likely waiting until Apple unveils the iPad 3, which is expected to happen in the next couple of months, before buying a new tablet.
Last quarter the iPad accounted for 24.3% of Apple’s revenue, though McCourt expects that to drop to 21.3% based on his estimates. And even though his general outlook for Apple is bullish, giving it an “outperform” rating, he says that without entering an entirely new product category — like, say, TVs — Apple’s growth will likely slow down over the next two years.
Despite the iPad downgrade, Apple’s Christmas wasn’t ruined. McCourt’s note says iPhone sales were higher than expected, and he bumped up his estimate from 27 to 29 million. We’ll get hard answers on these numbers when Apple announces its quarterly financial numbers later this month.
BONUS: Amazon Kindle Fire Unboxing and Run-Through