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Despite losses, strategy could pay off for the enterprising Android tablet maker

Yesterday, following, Inc.'s (AMZN) big tablet reveal, Gene Munster, a Piper-Jaffray analyst known for his estimates of Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) sales, sent out a research note comparing the profitability of Apple's $500 iPad 2 with Amazon's $200 Kindle.

Mr. Munster estimated that the iPad 2 was turning a profit of 30 percent of its MSRP, while Amazon would lose $50 per Kindle Fire sold.  However, he didn't provide a specific source of his figures or much of an explanation.

We dug into this a bit more.  It turns out that iSuppli did teardowns [1][2] of this year's iPad 2 and last year's Galaxy Tab from Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO 005930).  

Now iSuppli's numbers are hardly infallible, but given that the LCD market hasn't move much price-wise in the last year, for tablet screens, it can be assumed that the Galaxy Tab's 7-inch display cost in the bill-of-materials gives a good estimate of what the LCD touch-screen unit on the Kindle Fire costs.  Combining this with the extra cost of the iPad 2's largest amount of onboard NAND memory, we estimate that the difference is indeed in the neighborhood of $100.

The Kindle Fire Fire-Sale

So what does this mean for -- and for Apple?  Well, for Apple it's a testament of how valuable the company's brand is.  Apple can have its cake and eat it too.  It can sell a grossly marked up device, and at the same time post the kind of huge sales that brings in strong auxiliary revenue streams such as app sales and advertising revenue.

Fig.: Apple doesn't have to offer big price cuts to get customers to bite.
[source: Entercom Digital Dev Blog] isn't that fortunate.  Despite arguably launching the consumer tablet with its Kindle e-Reader, has yet to establish itself as a major competitor in the new tablet market, which has been dominated by Apple and Samsung.

In order to gain ground appears to be adopting an approach similar to console makers in that it's pocketing a loss up front, in order to persuade early adopters to jump on board, leading to overall positive revenue via the auxiliary revenue streams.

Overall this approach could pay off for  The Kindle Fire is currently the cheapest fully functional Android tablet device on the market and its software offers nice differentiation over competive offerings.

Amazon pockets 30 percent of app sales revenue.  And it gets $79 for its Amazon Prime membership, which it's promo-ing on the tablet (which provides users with streaming movies and TV episodes).  If it can get one in every two customers to bite on the Amazon Prime membership, and get the average customer to spend $33 on apps over the device lifetime, it's broken even.  If it can do data mining on the users' web-browsing, or sell users some of its massive ebook collecton, it will likely turn a profit (under the above scenario).

In short, the "fire-sale" price of might not be such a crazy idea after all.  Maybe Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) unwittingly stumbled onto the secret to tablet success after all, during its TouchPad fire-sale.

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Fire sale pricing
By Fritzr on 9/29/2011 8:41:46 AM , Rating: 2
HP demonstrated that low pricing can heat up sales.

Now Amazon hopes to fire up their customers with a loss leader to drive content sales.

The Kindle brand is really turning out to be a hot property.

Heres hoping the loss leader concept is a fiery success :D

RE: Fire sale pricing
By sigmatau on 9/29/2011 9:26:37 AM , Rating: 2
My thoughts exactly. These may make nice holiday presents.

RE: Fire sale pricing
By bupkus on 9/29/2011 9:41:36 AM , Rating: 3
In short, the "fire-sale" price of might not be such a crazy idea after all. Maybe Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) unwittingly stumbled onto the secret to tablet success after all, during its TouchPad fire-sale.
Yes, and the more often I read it the more I love my HP Touchpad.

As for HP I think the key words are:
"unwitting[ly]" and "stumbled"

RE: Fire sale pricing
By Solandri on 9/29/2011 2:35:16 PM , Rating: 2
As for HP I think the key words are: "unwitting[ly]" and "stumbled"

I've been saying this for a long time now. First I predicted in 2009 that the iPad would sell well despite the naysayers saying tablets were a stupid form factor and it'd be too expensive:
(Granted I was wrong about Apple being too greedy to hit a $500 price point.)

And about a year ago I was saying sub-$250 was the price point needed to really drive sales and eclipse Apple.

I suppose I should be happy companies are finally seeing the light.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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