According to sources for DigiTimes, production of 7 inch screens rose 17% from month to month. While no official individual sales breakdowns are available, it is estimated that as many as 6 million copies of the Amazon Kindle Fire will ship this year while Barnes and Noble will deliver 1.5 million NOOK tablets in 2011. DigiTimes says that Apple had reduced its orders for 9.7 inch displays in November as it phases out production of the Apple iPad 2 in preparation for the production of the Apple iPad 3. With the latter expected to start rolling off the assembly line in March or April, shipments of 9.7 inch displays should start turning higher again soon.
Not all 7 inch tablets have had spectacular sales. The BlackBerry PlayBook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab are two 7 inch tablets that have not exactly been in heavy demand. A lot of that has to do with pricing. With the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Barnes and Noble NOOK Tablet priced at $199.99 and $249.99 respectively, buyers are willing to give up some of the features available on higher priced Android tablets in exchange for a lower price. The PlayBook and the Galaxy Tab were originally priced in the same range as the 9.7 inch Apple iPad, but with a smaller screen and shorter battery life.
With the Amazon Kindle Fire, the tablet can be priced as low as it is because it comes without many of the features that one would expect to find with a higher priced Android tablet. Content, apps and cloud based storage can be purchased from Amazon. As a result, instead of taking a $10 hit on each Kindle Fire sold, the online retailer is actually expected to score a $10 profit for each tablet it sells.