Want a Kindle Fire? You're out of luck.
Amazon (Fortune 500) sent out press invitations last week for a Sept. 6 event in California. While Amazon didn't reveal the subject of the event, it's widely expected that the company will unveil new versions of the Fire tablet and Kindle e-readers. ,
The sell-out isn't all that surprising: Retailers often let stock sell out or offer steep discounts on merchandise that is about to be replaced with newer versions.
Thursday's press release about the Kindle Fire sell-out didn't reveal how many have been sold, as Amazon famously doesn't release Kindle unit sales. The company did say the Fire comprised 22% of U.S. tablet sales in its nine months on the market, though the source of Amazon's data is unclear. IHS iSuppli's analysis found that the Kindle Fire never held more than a 14% share of the tablet market, and sales have slipped in recent months.
The 7-inch Kindle Fire began shipping in November for $199, clearly aimed at undercutting Apple's (Fortune 500) wildly popular $499 iPad. The Fire is geared towards media consumption: reading books and magazines, watching video and streaming music. ,
Among the rumors about next week's event: Amazon may announce a 10-inch Kindle Fire. That would be slightly bigger than the 9.7-inch screen on the iPad.
At the same time, Apple is rumored to be releasing a smaller version of the iPad at its own event sometime in September or October. The so-called "iPad Mini" will purportedly be a 7-inch device -- just like the current Kindle Fire.
Apple controlled more than two-thirds of the tablet market in the second quarter, according to iSuppli's most recent data. Samsung has captured about 9% of the market, and Amazon came in at the No. 3 spot with 4%. Rounding out the top 5 were Asus with 3% and Barnes & Noble (Fortune 500) at 2%. ,
It's a tough market to play in, littered with other tablets that sorely disappointed or died outright. In the most extreme example, Hewlett-Packard (Fortune 500) killed off its TouchPad last year after just 49 days on the market. ,
BlackBerry maker Research in Motion ( released its )PlayBook tablet in April 2011 and immediately drew criticism for its unfinished feel. Motorola's Xoom debuted at $799, and sales were sluggish.
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