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Amazon shipped as many as 6 million Kindle Fire tablets in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a revised estimate by Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan, who previously pegged sales at 5 million units.
In a note Sunday to investors, Rohan said Amazon's competitive pricing--the Kindle Fire sells for $199, compared to $499 for the least expensive Apple iPad 2--is a major reason behind the Android-based tablet's popularity. "Kindle Fire has staked out an important market position due to its loyal Amazon customer base and attractive device pricing," said Rohan.
Further evidence of Kindle Fire's strong sales can be found on Amazon's own best sellers list. The tablet remains the top-seller in the electronics category, a position it's occupied for weeks.
[What's the takeaway from mobile device makers' financial reports? See Smartphone, Tablet Races: 4 Telling Numbers.]
Previous studies have shown that Amazon actually loses money on Kindle Fire device sales, but hopes to more than recoup those losses through increased sales of books, movies, and other media that Kindle Fire users can purchase through Amazon's Web store.
Kindle Fire boasts some impressive specs for a sub-$200 slate. The 7-inch LCD screen displays 16 million colors in high-resolution, at 169 pixels per inch. In-plane switching technology provides wide viewing angles. A dual-core processor, reportedly from Texas Instruments, provides quick responsiveness.
The device weighs just 14.6 ounces, making it possible for most people to hold in one hand.
Kindle Fire also provides out-of-the-box integration with Amazon subscription services for movies, TV shows, games, and music. And it boasts a new browser called Silk that splits rendering tasks between the tablet and Amazon's big iron EC2 servers in the cloud, an approach that Amazon says is faster than traditional browsers, but has also raised privacy concerns.
Amazon is scheduled to release fourth quarter results on Tuesday, when market watchers expect the company to disclose more information about sales of Kindle Fire, which went on sale in the United States on Nov. 15. Wall Street analysts are, on average, expecting Amazon to report earnings per share of 19 cents, on revenue of $18.2 billion, according to data from Thomson Reuters.
Amazon shares were off 1.61%, to $192.23, in early trading Monday.
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