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Amazon Kindle Fire: Total Number Sold Remains Mystery

Amazon on Thursday said that its Kindle Fire tablet, available for the past nine months, has sold out, accounting for 22% of U.S. tablet sales in the process. But it won’t talk number of units.

10 Tablets To Shake Up 2012
10 Tablets To Shake Up 2012
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Amazon on Thursday said that its Kindle Fire tablet, available for the past nine months, has sold out, accounting for 22% of U.S. tablet sales in the process.

In a statement, CEO Jeff Bezos expressed gratitude to the millions of customers who have purchased the device. "This has been a big year for digital products on Amazon--all of the top 10 sellers on since Kindle Fire launched just less than a year ago are digital products," said Bezos. "Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead--we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability, and the best content ecosystem."

This is the first time that Amazon has quantified its Kindle Fire sales. But 22% of U.S. tablet sales doesn't really shed any light on the actual number of Kindle Fire units sold in the absence of a figure that defines the size of the U.S. tablet market for the past three quarters. Amazon did not respond to a request to provide a specific sales figure.

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According to research firm IDC, Amazon sold 4.8 million Kindle Fires in Q4 2011; 700,000 in Q1 2012; and 1.2 million in Q2 2012; for a total of 6.7 million.

Other sources suggest the number is lower. Publisher's Marketplace estimates Amazon sold only 6.1 million Kindle Fires in the past nine months.

Regardless, Amazon is inviting a question that it isn't yet ready to answer: What now? Has the supply of Kindle Fires dried up forever?

Hardly. Amazon has already announced that it plans to hold a press conference next Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif., a week ahead of an Apple press event that's likely to focus on the next iPhone and possibly a 7-inch iPad. The timing of Amazon's event, in conjunction with the disappearance of the Kindle Fire from store shelves, suggests only one thing: the imminent arrival of the Kindle Fire 2.

The leaks have already begun. The Verge on Thursday said it has seen images of the new Kindle Fire and that there are two models, with screens measuring 7 and 10 inches, respectively.

This time, however, Amazon faces competition it didn't have before: Not only is Apple expected to introduce its take on the 7-inch tablet, but Google is pushing its Nexus 7 tablet. If Amazon can capture 22% of the U.S. tablet market from Q4 2012 through Q2 2013, that will be quite an achievement.

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