Five million Kindle Fire units becomes the first reliable estimate of Kindle sales (based on Apple, Samsung and Amazon supplied information rather than guesses from analysts.)
So the question now is whether this is consistent with the hypothesis that the Fire is disrupting the tablet business.
Bearing in mind that this 5 million total was reached with prominent placement on Amazon.com and a loss-leading pricing, I would conclude that this is not an auspicious start for a disruptive product.
Pouring cold water atop Amazon's auspicious claims of a twenty-two percent ownership of the tablet marketplace, Horace Dedieu has run through the numbers and come to a fairly believable five million shipment total for the Kindle Fire.
Although such a statistic falls drastically short of Apple's numbers, I tend to sustain a reserved sense of optimism for Amazon's future potential in the tablet space.
The first iteration of the Kindle Fire, as is evidenced by its OMAP 4 reference design, is unquestionably the tangible expression of a corporate experiment. Holding an enormous catalog of media, Amazon sought to dip its toes into a newfound market without incurring a high developmental cost, whilst also providing a window onto its own product ecosystem.
The device is lacking in sweeping areas of performance and functionality, the software is riddled with inconsistencies and issues, and the Amazon App Store isn't quite up to par with Google Play. But, for all of this, the Kindle Fire is irrefutably a half-baked experiment to gauge the viability of a market for Amazon.
In other words, the first iteration of the Kindle Fire was not conceived as a disruptive agent in the tablet space. It was simply a litmus test for an unfamiliar environment for Amazon.
With the impending refresh of the Kindle Fire expected to arrive late next week, I can only imagine that Amazon's in-house development team — Lab126 — will be entrusted with the developmental responsibilities for the construction and sustenance of the device. Entrenched within the Amazon ecosystem, proven as a product of potential value, and marketable via one of the most visited store-fronts in the world, there's no reason to deem the Kindle Fire line a failure as a "disruptive" entity in the tablet space until we see what the company has to share next week.
Despite the obvious shortcomings of the current version of the Kindle Fire, it is impossible to grasp the entirety of Amazon's potential in the space.
As has been re-inforced by the recent introduction of the Nexus 7 and the inevitable arrival of a smaller iPad, there is a clear and present market for low-cost consumption-centric tablets. There's no reason that Amazon, boasting an enormous library of media and a proven presence in the space with its E-Ink line, cannot successfully tap into this space, regardless of how its previous experiments may have done in the past.
Thus, beyond the initial derision of Amazon's PR hyperbole, I choose to withhold judgment of Amazon and its tablet offering until I see what the company chooses to unveil on September 6. Perhaps the successor will drastically underwhelm, but, equally, I refuse to pre-emptively deem an as yet unseen product to be a failure.