When Amazon said the Kindle Fire was "the bestselling product across all of Amazon" a week ago, it didn't quote any numbers to support that claim. Luckily, that hasn't stopped the folks at IHS from compiling some data of their own, which suggests that Amazon will have shipped a whopping 3.9 million of the tablets by year's end.
For reference, IHS expects Apple to ship 18.6 million iPads in the fourth quarter. Samsung, the next biggest tablet vendor, is expected to ship only 1.4 million devices in that time frame. Those figures would put Amazon snugly in the number-two spot for this quarter—impressive, considering the Kindle Fire only became available on November 15 (though pre-orders started a month and a half earlier).
At $199, the Kindle Fire is admittedly quite a bit cheaper than the competition. In fact, IHS points out that the device costs slightly more to manufacture ($201.70) than it does at retail. The market research firm previously noted that Amazon's business model consists of using cheap devices like the Kindle Fire to draw customers to its more profitable e-tail business. That's not something many of its competitors can pull off.
IHS expects Apple to respond to the Kindle Fire's meteoric rise with a cheaper iPad, either by introducing a lower-end device or by cutting the price of the iPad 2 when it introduces the iPad 3. Other Android tablet makers may be in a tougher position, however.