Can Apple and Amazon.com Coexist?
Maybe there's room for more than one winner in the booming tablet space.
When Amazon revealed that it was selling "millions" of Kindle Fire tablets down the homestretch of the holiday shopping season, analysts responded by hosing down their iPad targets. If Amazon was selling a ton of its entry-level $199 tablets, Apple just had to be in trouble with its pricier iPad 2.
Then came Apple's blowout quarter last week. The pros that had whittled down their forecasts to between 13 million and 13.5 million couldn't have been more wrong. Apple sold a whopping 15.4 million iPads.
If Apple is doing better than expected, surely that must now mean that Amazon is the one in trouble when it reports later today. Right?
Well, maybe not.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan raised his fourth-quarter target on Kindle Fire sales over the weekend. He now sees Amazon selling 6 million units during the seasonally potent holiday quarter. It's not too bad for a product that didn't hit the market until the second half of November. Clearing 6 million Kindle Fires would be a far cry from the 3 million to 5 million devices that others have been targeting.
Perhaps more important, it would mean that both companies would have combined to clear a mind-boggling 21.4 million tablets.
This would be a pretty bold achievement, especially coming at a time when Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) was shaving as much as $400 off its PlayBook tablets to pair unwanted machines with buyers. Hewlett-Packard (NYS: HPQ) was also clearing out its short-lived webOS-powered TouchPad tablets for as little as $99 apiece.
If Apple and Amazon can both thrive in this markdown climate, the future has to be pretty rosy for tablets. We already know that Apple had an amazing quarter. Amazon has historically been tightlipped with its Kindle metrics, but maybe this is the quarter when the leading online retailer finally comes clean with actual sales figures. After all, going public with its metrics clearly hasn't hurt Apple over the years.
Things will only get better from here. Apple should sell a ton of iPads, especially now that its textbook initiative will make it a popular classroom purchase. Even if Amazon acts quickly with a similar offering -- appealing to budget-minded public schools -- this will obviously be a big enough market for more than just one player.
The party's just getting started, and it apparently isn't a party for one.
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At the time this article was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Apple, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, except for HP. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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