The Kindle Fire appears to be burning up its competition -- on the Android side, anyway.
Amazon.com Inc.'s tablet computer is catching on in a big way, having grabbed 54.4% of the Android tablet market by the end of February, the fourth month that it was on sale, according to new data from comScore Inc. That represented a near doubling of the Fire's Android market share since December, when it was at 29.4%.
In a way, the Kindle Fire is gobbling up the small fish in the pond -- far outpacing Samsung's Galaxy Tab (15.4% of Android), Motorola Xoom (7%), the Asus Transformer (6.3%) and others by Dell, Lenovo and Sony.
But the big fish remains Apple's iPad, which, according to the market research firm IDC, controlled about 55% of the entire tablet market as of the fourth quarter of 2011, with Android tablets accounting for about 45%. In its release Friday, comScore declined to offer more recent overall market share numbers, so we don't yet have an up-to-date snapshot of the broader tablet battle.
However, if the iPad-Android market split has stayed close to 55%-45% in the last few months, that would mean about 30% of tablets currently shipping are Kindle Fires, putting the Fire an increasingly close second to the iPad.
That may make dismissing the Kindle Fire more difficult for Apple, which sold close to 12 million of its new iPads in the device's first quarter on the market, a strong showing but not a record for iPad sales. In February, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook dismissed tablets like the Kindle Fire as an inferior competitor.
"A cheap product might sell some units," Cook said at the time. "But then [consumers] get it home and use it and the joy is gone. And the joy is gone every day that they use it and they wind up not using it anymore."
Whether or not they're using the Kindle Fire after they take it home, however, consumers certainly appear to be buying it.
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