Amazon expected to sell 3 to 5 million tablets in Q4 2011

Forrester Research predicts that Amazon's tablet will be a huge hit in its first quarter of availability.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Although Amazon hasn't even officially unveiled a tablet of its own yet, some tech insiders are ready to bet big on its success.

Sarah Rotman Epps, a senior analyst at Forrester Research, argues that Amazon can launch a tablet priced below $300, then Amazon will likely sell three to five million tablets in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone -- that is if we even see it this year.

In comparison, Apple shipped 4.69 million units of the iPad 2 in the second fiscal quarter after it launched this year, and then another 9.25 million during the third fiscal quarter.

However, Motorola shipped 440,000 Xoom tablets in its first quarter of availability, and RIM managed to do slightly better with 500,000 sold units of the BlackBerry Playbook.

Epps acknowledges on Forrester's blog that this is going to be a major battle for Amazon to take on Apple (and Google as the tablet is expected to run on Android), but she still posits that Amazon will at least become in second to Apple and become the leader in the Android space:

We see potential for Amazon not only to launch its own hardware as an "Amazon tablet" but also to be a platform for other OEMs, layering Amazon’s software and services over Android to provide a richer customer experience. In a year from now, we could see a range of "Amazon tablets" made by different hardware manufacturers.

While Amazon could possibly present Apple with a strong challenge in the tablet space, it's still too soon to tell. Not only have we not even seen what Amazon's tablet looks like or what it can do, but assuming that just because Amazon is a big name with lots of resources does not mean that it can produce a great tablet. Look at Hewlett-Packard.

However, looking at HP's TouchPad as an example from another perspective, Epps could be right with the sub-$300 price point argument. Just look at how well the TouchPad did when the price was slashed to $99. Although that was done for a number of reasons (including the fact it couldn't even sell at $299), there is definitely a lesson to be learned there. Most consumers don't want to pay $499 and up for a tablet with the exception of the iPad.

Thus, starting off with a lower price point from the get-go might at least one way of luring more customers into an Android-based tablet.


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