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Summary:

The Kindle Fire has been getting most of the attention, but it won’t make up the bulk of Amazon’s device sales in 2012, Barclays says in a n…

Amazon Kindle E-readers
photo: Amazon

The Kindle Fire has been getting most of the attention, but it won’t make up the bulk of Amazon’s device sales in 2012, Barclays says in a new research note. The bank estimates that Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) will sell 15.3 million Kindle Fire tablets (that number includes the rumored 10-inch Kindle tablet to be released next year) and 23.5 million Kindle e-readers next year. Device and resulting content sales, Barclays projects, will hit $9.4 billion for the year.

The bank doesn’t say why it thinks Amazon will sell more e-readers than tablets, but one logical reason is that the e-readers are still cheaper. At $199, the Kindle Fire is a lot cheaper than the iPad, but the $79 Kindle 4 with Special Offers is almost a bargain buy.

Barclays revised its projections upward after seeing the low price points on the Fire and the new e-readers, and joins others who believe Amazon is subsidizing the cost of the Fire. Barclays also believes Amazon will release a 10-inch tablet for $299 in the first quarter of 2012, and will subsidize that one as well. (Sales for that tablet are included in Barclay’s estimates of total tablet sales for 2012.) Due to those subsidies, Barclays says it’s “cautious on Amazon’s margin profile-which is also being pressured by continued geographic expansion, fulfilment center build-outs, and content acquisition related to Prime Instant video-and we believe significant margin expansion is likely pushed even further out.”

Some other projections from the report:

–Amazon will sell 4.5 million tablets in Q42011. (Before the Fire was released, Forrester predicted Amazon would sell three to five million tablets in Q42011 if their price was below $300.)

–Kindle tablet and e-reader devices and media will make up about 14 percent of Amazon’s estimated 2012 revenue, or $9.4 billion (out of an estimated $67 billion).

–Amazon digital media content revenue (e-books, video on demand, apps and MP3s) on mobile devices will eclipse Kindle hardware revenue by the end of 2013.

–Media consumed on the tablet and e-readers will make up about 45 percent of Amazon’s total media revenue (physical and digital) by the end of 2014. Media revenue as a percentage of total Amazon revenue has been declining, Barclays says, but the company believes the tablets and e-readers will “help stabilize–and potentially reaccelerate–growth within Media and could improve overall margins over time.”

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  1. Before you think of getting a Kindle twinkle …err…Fire, here’s some limitations of it that you need to consider:
    – Kindle Fire doesn’t have microSD slot that, for example, Nook Color has thus it is stuck with 6 GB usable internal storage unlike Nook Color that can get up to 32 GB card in. Kindles are made to be almost like a “dumb terminal” of the past to make sure you’re tied up to Amazon’s storage on the web (for which you need Wi-Fi connection to get to) and you can only store content you get from Amazon there, not other files. Quoting Amazon on Kindle Fire: “Free cloud storage for all Amazon content”. Get it, Amazon content?
    – The stats of how long the battery can last (Kindle Fire theory is 8 hours) are taken with Wi-Fi off. You can only imaging how much less Kindle Fire battery will last if you use it to access content from their Cloud storage over Wi-Fi.
    – Amazon can spy on your web activity through their new cloud-integrated web browser of Kindle Fire.
    – VERY IMPORTANT – lack of microSD slot means that if you decide to root your Kindle Fire, you’ll have to root the actual device thus there will be no coming back. On Nook Color, you can make it boot from a “rooted” microSD card and if you want to get back to the original Nook you can just take out the card and reboot.
    – Kindle doesn’t support eBooks in ePub format that is the most used format in the world.
    – Kindle app store contains only Amazon approved apps and it does not include (and will not include) Netflix app that iPad has and Nook Color is getting thus again you’re stuck with Amazon content only.
    – Amazon confirmed that you cannot download anything to Kindle Fire when traveling abroad.
    I’d recommend waiting for a couple of weeks as Nook Color 2 is rumored to be released by Barnes & Noble.

    1. This is almost exactly the kind of list you get when someone tries to talk about why you shouldn’t by an iPad except you can’t ding them on price like you can with Apple.  I’d wager that most of the points are meaningless to the average consumer (e.g. most people).  And those that it does matter to already know this.  I know there are people out there that care about rooting and stuff like that.  But I still haven’t actually met one.

  2. Nook Touch is still better designed than even the new Kindle Touch with battery lasting
    two months with ONE hour reading a day with Wi-Fi off thus it’s still twice as
    long as new Kindle’s two months with HALF and hour a day with Wi-Fi off. It
    looks like Kindle didn’t get any battery improvement in the new model, they
    only changed the test condition. More, Kindle Touch still flashes black on each
    page turn while Nook Touch reduces the flashing by 80%.

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