Any time a new tablet is released on the market, the first question consumers have: how does it stack up against the iPad? The iPad still reigns supreme when it comes to tablet sales, although the Kindle Fire came pretty close.
The Fire and Samsung Galaxy Tab may have been the tablets to challenge the iPad in the fourth quarter of 2011, but the true challenger is not a tablet at all. It is actually Apple's iPhone 4S. Although iPad sales dropped from 64% to 57% of all tablets sold globally, it was due to the release of the 4S.
Kindle Features To Blame?
Probably not. Some tech experts (especially those at Apple) believe that consumers who purchase the Kindle Fire will end up in the long run turning to an iPad, looking to do more with the tablet than the Fire offers, referring to the Fire as a “gateway drug.” Apple's CEO Tim Cook says that consumers see the price tag and are proud of their “good deal,” until they get it home and start using it. Frustration sets in when they realize they just can't do as much as they would like, and then the limitations of the device cause them to replace it with a better tablet. If this is true, then iPad sales should fare well.
Apple execs actually applauded Amazon for creating the Kindle Fire. It is another Android competitor, and is a system more like an iPad than any other tablet on the market. With its low price, the Fire also challenges all other tablets to compete. Although it was released in November giving them a short portion of Q4 to work with, they were still able to beat out the Samsung Galaxy Tab and take second place in the tablet world with an estimated 3.9 million units sold (the Galaxy sold 2.14 million.)
Experts believe all of the hype over the iPhone 4S is the true reason its sales beat out the iPad and iPad 2. Consumers had a certain amount of money to spend, and not being able to choose both, they went with the highly sought after 4S. Compared to the 15.4 million iPad's sold in the fourth quarter, the iPhone crushed them by selling 37 million units. Sales overall in 2011 of all of Apple's iOS devices even beat out the past 28 years' Mac sales.
Ipad 3 Could Change Everything
The highly anticipated iPad 3, due to be released as soon as next month, could turn the tables back in their favor. This tablet will feature a QXGA retina display and will also include Siri, available currently only on the iPhone 4S. This voice activated assistant is part of the reason 4S sales were so high. Experts are predicting sales of the iPad 3 to be so great, demand will outweigh supply.
Amazon plans on releasing a second generation Kindle Fire at some point, although it has not been said exactly when to expect this. Amazon has acquired its own voice technology app, Yap, to attempt to remain competitive. It remains to be seen whether any device can be developed to be as innovative and exciting as the iPad.