Amazon's Kindle e-reader sales are down, but so are most tablets

A recent report from the IDC showed that the last quarter of 2014 was hard on tablet manufacturers.

Elaine Thompson/AP
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Operating Systems Group, speaks at an event demonstrating new features of its flagship operating system Windows at the company's headquarters Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015, in Redmond, Wash. Executives demonstrated how they said the new Windows is designed to provide a more consistent experience and a common platform for software apps on different devices, from personal computers to tablets, smartphones and even the company's Xbox gaming console.

Worldwide tablet shipments are slumping for the first time in the product's five-year history, according to a report by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Overall, in the fourth quarter of 2014 tablet shipments decreased by 3.2 percent year over year.

his is a blow for Apple and Samsung, the companies that dominate the tablet industry, but Amazon’s Kindle was hit the worst.

Amazon experienced a 69.9 percent decrease in tablet shipments over the past year, which is more than three times the loss that Apple or Samsung had, despite the fact that Amazon launched a new tablet this year.

The Kindle Fire was launched in October and was designed to be faster, lighter and include a better camera. But it does not appear to have boosted the product’s revenue. Amazon has not had much luck with its foray into phones either. The Amazon Fire phone is currently priced at only 99 cents, according to Business Insider.

Considering that Amazon is also the smallest manufacturer of tablets, that does not bode well for the life of the Kindle.

The Kindle’s main competitor is Barnes and Noble’s e-reader the Nook. Samsung, which manufactures the Nook, was down on shipping by 18.4 percent this past quarter as e-readers continue to lose out to more versatile tablets.

"The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

According to the IDC, Microsoft is not one of the top five manufacturers of tablets worldwide, and is therefore lumped into the "other" category in their charts.

Ubrani went on to say that despite offering cheaper iPad options, the excitement surrounding Apple’s new phones prevented a spike in iPad sales, and Samsung is struggling as it realizes that Android tablets do not do as well in today’s market.

The only company within the top five to experience an increase in tablet shipments in the fourth quarter was Lenovo, a Chinese manufacturing company that produces Android and Windows tablets. Lenovo experienced a 9.1 percent growth in 2014.

However,  the decrease in shipments over the last year does not necessarily signify the demise of tablet.

Tim Cook of Apple does not see tablets being profitable in the short run but thinks that they do have long-term market value, according to AppleInsider.

Researchers agree.

"Despite an apparent slow-down of the market, we maintain our forecast about tablet growth in 2015," said Jean Philippe Bouchard, research director, tablets for the IDC.  "Microsoft's new OS, a general shift towards larger screen form factor and productivity focused solutions, and technology innovations such as gesture interface that could be introduced in tablets will help the market maintain positive growth in 2015."

IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 2, 2015
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, February 2, 2015
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