Amazon's Tablet Strategy Appears to Pay Off as Kindle, Fire Sales Jump

NEW YORK (TheStreet) –– As shoppers turned increasingly to Amazon (AMZN) for their Black Friday shopping needs, the company's hardware strategy appears to be paying off with Kindle e-reader and Fire tablet sales up significantly year over year.

Amazon announced that sales of its Fire tablets were up three times year over year on Black Friday, and Kindle e-readers did even better, growing four times from last year.

"This holiday there are going to be a lot of customers opening up new Amazon devices," said Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, in a press release. "We're energized by the year-over-year growth of tablet and e-reader Black Friday sales on Amazon.com, plus the success of the new product categories we've launched this year."

The announcement comes at a time when the tablet market, particularly for Apple (AAPL) , is experiencing a slowdown. Research firm IDC noted that the tablet market is expected to grow just 7.2% in 2014, down from 52.5% in 2013. IDC attributed the slowdown largely due to a decline in iPad sales, noting that the life cycle on tablets has continued to lengthen "increasingly resembling those of PCs more than smartphones. IDC noted that the life span for tablets is at least three years, and in some cases, more than four years.

Amazon has come under significant pressure for spending on hardware, most notably its Fire Phone, after having taken a $170 million write-down on unsold inventory in its third quarter. The company also has received criticism for trying to do too much all at once, leading to heavy losses. For the fourth quarter, Amazon said it expects to report results of between an operating loss of $570 million to an operating profit of $430 million on revenue of between $27.3 billion and $30.3 billion.

Shares of Amazon were little changed in premarket trading on Monday. For the year, shares of Amazon have fallen 15.1% due in large part to the continued operating losses Amazon is experiencing as it expands into new areas, compared to a 14.7% gain in the Nasdaq.

TheStreet recently reviewed two of Amazon's latest tablets, the Fire HDX 8.9, as well as the Fire 6 tablet. The Fire HDX 8.9 performed better in our testing than previous versions. We called it "a great alternative to the iPad." The Fire 6 did not live up to its larger sibling's reputation, noting that it's a "nice device although somewhat heavy." The Fire HDX 8.9 starts at $379 for the Wi-Fi version, while the Fire 6 starts at $99.

In addition to launching the Fire Phone as well as refreshing its tablet and e-reader lineup, Amazon also unveiled its move into the set-top box and video streaming market, again taking on Apple and Google ( GOOGL) , with its Fire TV set-top box, as well as the Fire TV stick.

Amazon announced Monday that the Fire TV would be available Monday for $69, $30 less than the original price.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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