More proof Kindle Fire already is iPad's main challenger

Amazon.com's new tablet leaps to No. 2 in expected Q4 shipments

Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has been available for just a couple of weeks, but it's already succeeded where tablets from HP, Samsung, Research in Motion and others have failed: It's taking away market share from Apple's iPad.

On Friday, market research iSuppli released preliminary tablet shipping figures for the fourth quarter, reporting:

Coming up from zero in the third quarter, Amazon will ship 3.9 million Kindle Fire tablets during the last three months of 2011, according to a preliminary projection from the IHS iSuppli Display Materials & Systems Service from information and analysis provider IHS. This will give the company a 13.8 percent share of global media tablet shipments in the fourth quarter, exceeding the 4.8 percent held by No. 3 Samsung, and second only to Apple’s commanding 65.6 percent portion of the market.

What's more, Apple's share of Q3 shipments was 69.7%, so it's clear the Kindle Fire is eating into the Apple's tablet market share, even though the number of iPad shipments is expected to increase to 18.6 million in the fourth quarter from 11.1 million in Q3, a gain of 67%.

Does this mean people who might have purchased iPads are opting instead for the cheaper Kindle Fire? Of course! But putting a number on it is a bit tricky, though ChangeWave Research gives it a shot.

“Nearly two years after Apple Inc. rolled out the iPad, a competitor has finally developed an alternative which looks like it might have enough of Apple’s secret sauce to succeed,” Rhoda Alexander, senior manager, tablet and monitor research for IHS, said in a statement.

Just like someone else said recently.

Previous No. 2 tablet manufacturer Samsung, meanwhile, is expected by iSuppli to ship 1.37 million tablets, which would comprise 4.8% of the global market. That compares to 1.25 million, or 7.8% of the market, in the third quarter.

If trends continue, the Nook tablet sold by bookseller Barnes & Noble will move past Samsung into third place in next year's first quarter, based in iSuppli data. While the Nook's Q4 market share remained unchanged from Q3 at 4.7%, shipments are expected to jump 76% to 1.32 million from 750,000 in the third quarter. Sales are expected to be bolstered by the Nook Tablet, which was released on Nov. 7 (B&N already had a Nook e-reader out).

Way back at No. 5 is HTC, whose tablets are expected to account for only 1.3% of Q4 tablet shipments.

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