Internet giant Amazon says it has sold out of its Kindle Fire tablet in the US, fuelling speculation it is getting ready to release a new model in time for the festive season.
The Kindle Fire has been on sale for just nine months but the announcement that the first model is sold out suggests Amazon must have stopped production on it in order to gear up for a new version of the gadget.
And, with a press conference scheduled for Thursday in Santa Monica, California, by Amazon, analysts are expecting bosses at the firm to reveal a new model of the Amazon Fire there and then.
While experts have put the figure at around the 6.7million mark, Amazon didn’t reveal how many Fires it had sold so far, only saying it had captured 22 per cent of the US tablet market over nine months, making it the second-most popular tablet after Apple’s iPad.
The Fire has proved popular as it went a step further than Kindle’s e-readers, offering a host of digital content including movies, televisions shows, apps and books.
It has been a major success for Amazon which has also just celebrated topping the 100 million mark for exclusive titles purchased, borrowed or downloaded for the Amazon Kindle.
Amazon has more than 180,000 books on offer exclusively for the Kindle, including War Brides by Helen Bryan and A Modern Witch by Debora Geary.
The 100 million figure has been helped by the Kindle e-book lending service which, while not currently available in the UK, allows US customers to borrow books for free, as frequently as once a month, as long as they sign up for a prime membership.
It may see strange that an author would choose to limit their market but part of Kindle’s appeal is that authors who have yet to sign a book deal can self-publish their novels as e-books.
But while Amazon clearly has the market all sewn up when it comes to its exclusive titles, it is going to face some tough competition when it comes to the new Kindle Fire.
First time round, there was nothing else available offering that range of digital content at that price point, but that could be all set to change.
Stiff competition is set to emerge from Apple which is widely expected to produce a smaller, cheaper iPad in a bid to stop Amazon gaining an even bigger market share. Industry experts are questioning whether customers will still want to buy a Fire for around $200 if Apple can produce a smaller iPad at the $300 price point.
Amazon will be hoping the price difference is enough to appeal to people looking to treat themselves or loved ones at Christmas. So far Amazon has deliberately kept the price of the Kindle Fire as low as possible by keeping features to a minimum and taking only a small cut of the profits.
Its aim is for people to buy a Kindle and then Amazon will make its real money by the purchase of e-books, music and movie downloads from its Amazon store, which is linked to each device. We’ll just have to wait to find out who wins the Christmas battle of the mini tablets.