Record Breaking Sales Mark the Beginning of the Tablet Wars

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After enjoying a hugely successful Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Tablet manufacturers have made it clear that there is space for competitors in the open market for companies other than Apple. The HTC Flyer, BlackBerry PlayBook, and the Kindle Fire amongst other devices entered at price points which in some cases are less than half the price of the iPad; Black Friday and Cyber Monday have successfully kicked off the Tablet Wars.

To quantify the level of online activity seen for devices which experienced a significant mark-down (such as the Kindle Fire and the BlackBerry PlayBook), Chitika Insights conducted an impression based study covering a sample of over one billion data points dating from November 14th until December 6th. In both studies, an index was constructed where the largest data point was assigned a value of 100, and all other data points were a function thereof.

After a release on November 14th and record breaking sales figures reported for Black Friday, the Kindle Fire stands to become a hot ticket item for consumers in this year’s holiday gift baskets, especially with a price point of $200. Currently, the market is humming with rumors surrounding the Fire’s success. Target stated that the Kindle Fire was the store’s best-selling tablet on Black Friday. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, publicized that September 28th, the day the fire was announced was “the biggest order day ever for Kindle,” doubling the number of orders recorded in earlier Kindle launches. Some analysts even projected that the Kindle Fire will “rack up at least a few million units this holiday season and several million more next year.”

A previous Chitika Insights study showed a dip in online activity just after Black Friday, however looking at the latest data, the results are resoundingly in support of recent reports that consumers have embraced the Kindle Fire, and as a result buoyed its record sales. Online activity from the fire is at a record high, and shows no sign of slowing down.

The above graph highlights BlackBerry PlayBook web activity over the time period studied, and although it does not show as drastic a spike as that of Black Friday, few things are as dramatic as the terror of Black Friday shopping. Even so, despite its initial post Black Friday drop-off, the PlayBook’s online activity has continued to climb. The steady rise of its activity hints that RIM’s venture might have paid off. In a market dominated by the iPad and, more recently, the Kindle’s Android-based Fire, the PlayBook managed to entirely sell out at Best Buy on Black Friday. Judging by continued activity, its marketing strategy has succeeded in giving the PlayBook a boost in a highly competitive sphere this holiday season.

Whether this success, marked by the sudden fragmentation of the tablet market, is temporary or whether it will hold into the future is another question entirely. Will demand continue, or will this rise in activity taper off after the holidays end? Given the accelerated trend amongst tablet online activity, it would not be surprising to see the Fire, Playbook, and other mid-level devices fulfill many of the projections put in place by market analysts. Only time will tell.

Gabe Donnini
Gabe Donnini is a Data Solutions Engineer at Chitika and a lead author for reports by Chitika Insights, the research arm the online ad service.... Read Full Bio
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  • Issac Rhodes

    Part of the reason the BlackBerry PlayBook saw any spike in sales was the fact it was being sold for nearly half off it’s retail price because sales were extremely sluggish otherwise. Not quite sure if unloading inventory at that deep of a discount would be considered a “venture might have paid off.”

    Imagine the spike if the iPad were being sold for $299 !!

    As for the Kindle Fire, of course sales would spike with the introduction of a new device that had so much fanfare from one of the largest online retailers. Unfortunately, reviews of the device once it’s in consumers hands have not been so favorable.

    The long and short, you simply can’t use this data as a metric for sales of tablet devices because the data is skewed by time, product placement, wow factor and discount pricing.

  • Babyfacemagee

    You state:

    “To quantify the level of online activity seen for devices which experienced a significant mark-down (such as the Kindle Fire and the BlackBerry PlayBook),”

    In fact the Kindle Fire was not ‘marked down’. $199 has been the same price since day one. The Playbook was marked down however.

    As for Issac Rhodes…you state:

    “Imagine the spike if the iPad were being sold for $299 !!”

    But it’s not. That’s the point. The Kindle Fire undercuts the iPad by $300…1.5x the price of the device itself. If I had a Rolls Royce selling for $50 I’m sure I would sell tons…but the regular price isn’t $50. The regular, non-discounted day to day price of the Kindle Fire is $199….which is a large part of why it is selling so well.

  • Jeff

    Target and walmart were selling the Fire for about 120 on Black Friday