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As I and others have argued, there is no tablet market — there's an Apple iPad market. That said, the Amazon Kindle Fire has come on strong, suggesting that there may be room for an iPad competitor at lower price points (the Kindle Fire sells for $199). We know that consumers will go ga-ga over a cheap tablet that as designed to compete with the iPad. This is why the HP Touchpad found life at $99 and why the BlackBerry PlayBook may gain users if it goes on sale for around the same price. But these were tablets that were envisioned as $500 iPad killers. Who wouldn't want one at a monster discount?
Then there's Barnes & Noble's Nook. There are several models, but the Kindle Fire/iPad competitor (in as much as the iPad can really have a competitor) is the Nook Tablet, priced at $250. Here's where things get interesting. B&N is talking about spinning the Nook off as it's own company. And as DealBook reports, Nook Inc. could be worth almost $1 billion:
The tablet market is looking like a two-horse race at this juncture. It's Apple's iPad with a huge, market-defining lead, and Amazon's Kindle Fire catching up. The only distinct third option, outside the ill-defined Android context, is Research in Motion with its BlackBerry PlayBook. And that tablet hasn't even come close to meeting expectations. This is from the LA Times:
[PlayBook] numbers are small compared with the sales of competing tablets. RIM said in its statement that it sold about 150,000 PlayBook tablets to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26 "and sell-through to end customers, based on RIM's internal data, was higher than this amount."
How does that compare with iPad and Kindle sales?
Not well. Apple may sell 60 million iPads by the end of 2011. Meanwhile, Amazon may have already sold 2 million Kindle Fires, and may soon sell 2 million more.