Amazon could be on track to ship as many as 5 million Kindle Fire tablets in the fourth quarter, according to an analyst who tracks the market.
"Checks indicate that they could ship upwards of 5 million units in the December quarter [fourth quarter], which is just shy of half of Apple's volume," said Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw in a phone interview Thursday. That's an increase from Kumar's previous forecast of up to four million in the same quarter.
Why the hike in the forecast? "Because they have received record preorders," he said, echoing revised forecasts from other analysts.
"It's the first time a competitor has emerged to challenge Apple and that's literally from a standing start," he added. Apple is shipping about 12 million iPad 2 tablets a quarter, according to Kumar.
The Kindle Fire launched on September 28 at $199 and was made available for preorder immediately on the Amazon Web site.
In the first six days, preorders for the Kindle Fire were estimated at about 215,000, according to data provided by eDataSource. Other sources put this estimate even higher. Moreover, the sales pace is expected to pick up after the Kindle Fire begins to ship on November 15.
Kumar cautioned that supply constraints on the display is a factor that could keep Amazon back from hitting the revised target. "The primary gating factor is on the display side. If they can fix that...it's not demand limited. It's a supply constraint," he said.
Along these lines, Taipei-based market researcher Trendforce said Friday that display panel makers have been ramping up shipments of displays for 7-inch tablets like the Kindle Fire, demonstrating "superb...tablet panel shipments in September," according to analyst Jian-An Chen.
A burst of 7-inch panel production for products like the Kindle Fire as well as HTC and Asus tablets "has effectively pushed the shipment of 7 (inch) tablet PC panel in September to 1.82 million units with MoM growth of 195%," Chen wrote.