Amazon sells 3.9 mn tablets in Q4 2011

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Amazon.com shipped nearly 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets in the last three months of 2011, making the online retail giant the world's second-largest tablet maker in the quarter, market research firm IHS said on Thursday.

With the soaring sales of Kindle Fire, Amazon captured 14.3 percent of the global tablet market share in the quarter, surpassing Samsung Electronics to take the No. 2 position, according to a new report by IHS.

Apple remained the dominant player in the tablet market, shipping 15.4 million iPads, but its share dropped to 57 percent in the fourth quarter from 64 percent in the previous three months, said Xinhua.

The debut performance of the Kindle Fire, which hit the market only in mid-November of 2011, played a strong role in Apple's share shift, but it was Apple's own newly introduced iPhone 4S smartphone that proved to be the strongest competitor for the iPad, IHS analysts noted.

"The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October (in 2011) generated intense competition for Apple purchasers' disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets," Rhoda Alexander, senior manager of tablet and monitor research for IHS, said in a statement.

Looking forward, analysts predicted that Apple will reclaim its tablet market share when it starts to sell the next version of the iPad, which is expected in the second quarter of this year.

As for Kindle Fire, the long-term viability of the product will hinge on the success of Amazon's business gamble, "It depends on tablet sales driving substantial new online merchandise sales at Amazon.com in order to attain profitability", Alexander said.

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