Apple, Amazon Leading Tablet Race

Kindle-FireThe Great Tablet Derby of 2011 is shaping up to be a two-horse race.

According to a survey of more than 3,000 North American consumers by ChangeWave Research, Amazon’s new tablet entry, the Kindle Fire, is likely to become the category’s No. 2 product (behind, of course, the iPad) by a wide margin.

“I think we’re seeing a shake-out of the tablet market,” said Paul Carton, vice president of research for ChangeWave, in a webinar explaining the findings. “There are going to be several second-tier makers who aren’t going to make it.”

According to the survey, conducted in the first few weeks of November, 22% of potential tablet buyers said they are considering purchasing a Kindle Fire (65% said they intended to buy an iPad). The only other competitor to garner more than 1% of purchase intent was Samsung, which appealed to 4% of likely buyers.



“If the Kindle Fire lives up to user expectations, it has tremendous market momentum,” Carton said. “The most immediate impact is on the secondary tablet makers. This is potentially a devastating blow to second-tier tablet makers.”

Of course, Apple is (and will likely remain) the dominant player in the tablet market, with nearly two-thirds of likely tablet buyers saying they would purchase an iPad. Some of the advantages for Apple include high brand loyalty, a user-friendly operating system and high satisfaction rates among current consumers. “You’ve got them with a lead of two-thirds of the market going forward, and it’s growing exponentially,” Carton said. “It’s hard to see the Kindle making much of a dent with that.”

But Amazon has several factors working in its favor during the holiday season. First, the Kindle Fire, offered at $199, is cheaper than most tablets on the market, and price is one of the top considerations for tablet buyers, according to the survey. The company also has significant brand recognition among e-reader users, and it looks to be the dominant consumer electronics marketplace during this holiday season.

According to ChangeWave, 44% of consumers said they planned to make household electronics purchases through Amazon.com, up from 32% who intended to purchase through Amazon in last November’s survey. “This isn’t just because of the Kindle Fire,” Carton said. “The whole movement of online shopping has moved into its explosive stage.”

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