Amazon Kindle Fire could Burn Up iPad's Lead

A new survey shows that a genuine contender to Apple's tablet supremacy has arrived on the scene: with three times as many tablet buyers considering Amazon's Kindle Fire (which is available from Tuesday) than an iPad.

The survey conducted by Retrevo which was based on the answers from more than 1000 Americans should give cause for confidence at Amazon's headquarters. 44% of the respondents declared they would prefer the Kindle Fire with its 7 inch display and $199 price tag over the iPad, which costs more than double the price, starting at $499, and features a 9.7 inch display.

Just 12% said they were contmeplating the iPad, though there is still a lot to play for, as another 44% of the respondents admitted they "didn't know enough about the Amazon tablet."

The runaway leader on the tablet market is undeniably Apple's iPad which was released in April 2010, with the iPad 2 carrying on the trend from March this year, with total sales of over 35 million units. According to IDC and other analysts, iPad currently owns a more than 60% share of the tablet market.

Nevertheless, the findings in the Retrevo survey point out that users are beginning to be more budget conscious and are attracted to the lower priced tablets. There have been a number of lower-priced slates which have hardly dented the iPad's market share, but none has the ecosystem of music, movies, books and online retail experience of Amazon - which has also had a high degree of success with its Kindle eReaders.

In a similar vein, Retrevo points out that the upcoming $249 Nook Tablet (backed by Barnes & Noble) "could also be an attractive alternative to an iPad."

Still, analyst Sarah Rotman Epps of Forrester Research estimates that Amazon will sell 3 to 5 million Kindle Fire tablets in Q4 (albeit not a full quarter), with Apple shipping up to 20 million globally.

We'll have to wait and see how things look once Amazon's tablet has been established on the market.