RIM's widely-hyped but much maligned Playbook, meanwhile, appears to be vanishing from store shelves for all the wrong reasons.
"This year marked Thanksgiving's emergence as the first big spending day of the 2011 holiday season with a record number of consumers shifting their focus from turkey to tablets and the search for the best deals," said John Squire, chief strategy officer at IBM's Smarter Commerce unit.
Big Blue is tracking holiday shopping trends through its Coremetrics group. The company said online sales were up 39.3% on Thanksgiving Day, compared to last year, and that it expects robust sales to continue through Cyber Monday. Market watcher ComScore reported strong Black Friday sales--up 26% year-over-year to $816 million.
In tablets, the Kindle Fire and iPad 2 were dominating online sales chatter in tech's hottest holiday category. Experian's PriceGrabber unit said 76% of consumers it surveyed would prefer receiving a tablet over a PC as a gift this year.
[As tablets become more common in the enterprise, it becomes crucial to manage them properly. Read Mobile Device Management: What's Still Missing. ]
Without providing specific numbers, Amazon said it sold four times as many Kindle products on Black Friday as it did last year, and that Kindle Fire, which features a color touchscreen, topped all Kindle sales. "We're seeing a lot of customers buying multiple Kindles--one for themselves and others as gifts--we expect this trend to continue on Cyber Monday and through the holiday shopping season," said Dave Limp, VP for Amazon's Kindle unit.
Target officials said Kindle Fire, which sells for $199, outsold the iPad 2, which starts at $499, in its stores on Black Friday. "This was a great Black Friday for Target and for Kindle Fire, which was the bestselling tablet in our stores on Black Friday," said Target merchandising VP Nik Nayar.
Amazon held firm on the $199 list price for Kindle Fire on Cyber Monday, but cut the price of the Kindle DX, which offers a large, 9.7-inch grayscale display, from $379 to $259.
Overall, Amazon said it has sold "millions" of its new Kindle line, including Kindle Fire, since introducing the devices on Sept. 28.
As for the iPad, PriceGrabber's survey found that, contrary to Target's experience, 83% of consumers would prefer to receive an Apple tablet compared to any other tablet brand. Only 5% would opt for a Kindle Fire, while 4% would choose a Samsung Galaxy Tab. "Our survey data confirms that the enthusiasm for the [Apple] brand will likely remain during the 2011 holiday shopping season," said PriceGrabber general manager Graham Jones.
Like Amazon, Apple was holding firm on pricing for its signature product on Cyber Monday, but was offering other incentives on the iPad 2, including free engraving and shipping.
Cyber Monday didn't bring good news for all tablet makers.
Reports indicate that Best Buy and other retailers have pulled RIM's sales-challenged PlayBook from their inventories. A check of Best Buy's site early Monday showed that the devices were still listed, but not currently available for Web purchase or store pick up--a sign that the PlayBook may turn out to be the real Thanksgiving turkey.
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