Amazon sets Fire to tablet market, research suggests

Amazon, Apple, Samsung, Huawei

Amazon’s attempt to disrupt the tablet market last year looks to have paid off, with an estimated five million devices shipped in the fourth quarter of 2015.

The US company announced in September that it was selling the 7” Fire, which includes a range of exclusive content and services, for just $50.

According to ABI research, Amazon's shipments in the final quarter of last year more than trebled from 1.5 million in the Q4 2014.

The effect of the Fire looks to be significant, given Amazon shipped 7.6 million tablets in the whole of 2015.

Although it shipped far fewer devices than market leader Apple, which shipped 49.6 million tablets in the full calendar year, Amazon and Huawei were the only companies to see their shipments grow in the final quarter.

Apple shipped 4.7 million tablets fewer in Q4 2015 versus Q4 2014 while Samsung, the second biggest manufacturer, shipped 2.1 million fewer.

ABI Research Director Jeff Orr said: “Unlike other tablet manufacturers, Amazon views hardware as a commodity and emphasises focus on its recurring digital content revenue stream, generated from selling digital books, music, TV, and video programming to owners of its devices.

“The incredibly low pricing of the Fire Tablet is a smart and strategic move, as few others can afford to accept a lower margin on their tablet devices in favour of driving a surplus of content-related revenues.”

Amazon ranked as the fifth biggest manufacturer behind Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and Huawei for 2015 as whole, and Orr said rivals are taking “a wait-and-see approach”.

He added: “It’s a path only few can follow, as vendors without content distribution rights and value-added services can only rely on the transaction price of their hardware to stay in business.”

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