Amazon hints at Fire numbers - 1.9m a quarter?

For the first time, Amazon has given a vaguely tangible number for Kindle sales: the Fire has “22%” of the US tablet market. 

This could mean two things: Q2 sales, or share of the total base. 

First, lets’s assume this was share of Q2 sales 

  • Apple and Samsung both disclosed their Q2 US tablet unit sales as part of the patent lawsuit: 5.7m and 37k (sic) respectively. This doesn’t include sales of Samsung tablets not subject to the lawsuit (mainly the Galaxy Note), so add 150k to this. 
  • Assume Samsung had a third of the Android tablet market
  • Barnes & Noble does not disclose Nook unit sales. Nook revenue, including ebooks and devices was $192m, so sales must be well under 1m (since the unit price is $200 and 1m unit sales would be $200m): I assume 500k. 

That adds up to around 6.7m units. If Amazon had 22% market share, that means a total market of 8.6m units and Amazon units of 1.9m. 

Frankly, this is pretty imprecise - there are horribly big assumptions on every line except iPad sales, and it could be anything from 2.25m to 1.5m quite easily. Further, we don’t know what assumptions Amazon itself used to estimate the rest of the market in order to calculate its 22%. A report came out earlier this year estimating 22% share, a suspicious coincidence, but it would be bizarre for Amazon to quote that one rather than any of the dozens of other estimate and give no qualification. 

Applying some more guesses to the other quarters since launch, I get to maybe 6-6.5m units sold - versus 19.935m iPads sold in the USA in the 12m to June 2012. But only Amazon really knows - and probably only a few dozen people even inside Amazon

Now, what if Amazon is actually talking about share of the base? 

Apple sold 26m iPads in the USA just since the beginning of 2011. The vast majority will still be active. If there were no other tablets in the UA except for the iPad and the Kindle, a 22% share would give the Fire 7.3m users. Again, adding in the rest of the market with some rough assumptions pushes the Fire figure to somewhere around 8.5-9m. This, obviously, would require a rather high quarterly sales rate, since the Fire has not been on sale for as long as the other products.