Kindle Fire has strong lead in Android tablet market

The Kindle Fire appears to be burning up its competition - on the Android side, anyway. Inc.'s tablet computer is catching on in a big way in the US, accounting by end of February for 54.4 percent of tablets that run Google's Android system software.

That represented a near-doubling of the Fire's Android market share since December, when it was at 29.4 percent, according to new data from ComScore Inc. The Fire first went on sale in November.

In a way, the Kindle Fire is gobbling up the small fish in the pond - far outpacing Samsung's Galaxy Tab (15.4 percent of Android), Motorola Xoom (7 percent), the Asus Transformer (6.3 percent) 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 percent of the entire tablet market as of the fourth quarter of 2011, with Android tablets accounting for the remaining 45 percent.

In its release, ComScore declined to offer more recent overall market share numbers, so observers are still waiting for an up-to-date snapshot of the broader tablet battle.

But if the iPad-Android market split has stayed close to where it was in December, that would mean roughly 30 percent of tablets currently shipping are Kindle Fires, moving the Fire an increasingly close second to the iPad.

That may make dismissing the Kindle Fire more difficult for Apple, which sold nearly 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 painted tablets such as the less expensive $US199 Kindle Fire as inferior competitors.

"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."

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