Can Amazon's Fire tablet beat Apple's iPad?

Amazon has ousted Samsung as the second biggest tablet vendor, but tablet market continues to shrink.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Amazon saw tablet sales surge during the fourth quarter of 2017, ousting Samsung from second place, claims research firm IDC.

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Samsung, which has sat in second place in IDC's vendor listing since the list began, was horned aside as a result of Amazon offering steep discounts during the holiday season. In terms of year-on-year change, Amazon saw shipments grow by 50.3 percent, while Samsung saw shipments decline by 13 percent.

​Tablet shipments 4Q17

Tablet shipments Q4 2017


On the plus side for Samsung, IDC claims that shipments of its detachable portfolio continue to rise, but that those gains were offset by declines seen among its slate models.

And the report contains a further blow for players in the tablet space -- tablet shipments shrank during the fourth quarter year-on-year by 7.9 percent.

Apple, the biggest player in the tablet space, managed to not only hold on to market share, but also increase shipments year-on-year by 0.6 percent.

As far as the whole of 2017 is concerned, Apple, Samsung, and Amazon take first, second, and third place respectively. Samsung saw shipments slip 6.4 percent compared to 2016, while Apple and Amazon saw rises of 3 and 38 percent respectively.

​Tablet shipments 2017

Tablet shipments 2017

Now, the question that Amazon's huge growth in the tablet arena raises is this -- could the Fire tablet line pose a threat to the iPad? With shipments in 2017 of 16.7 million compared to 43.8 million for the iPad, the answer to that question right now is no. But when it comes to price, it's impossible for Apple to come anywhere close to competing with Amazon, and as old iPads become obsolete, buyers might be tempted to go cheap and make the switch to the Fire range and save several hundred dollars.

In the short term, it's hard to see Amazon beating Apple, but it's clear that buyers are price conscious, and right now Apple has nothing to offer them. If Amazon continues to make the sort of gains in the tablet space in 2018, then it's likely that Apple will need to counter with even cheaper iPads than it currently has on offer.

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