Kindle Fire sold out in less than a year

Next generation Amazon tablet expected within a week

The Kindle Fire has been snuffed out -- in a good way.

Amazon said Thursday that the $199 Kindle Fire tablet sold out after less than a full year on the market.

Amazon claims that since it's launch, the Kindle captured 22% of U.S. tablet sales -- numbering in the "millions."

The device was launched in September 2011, and began shipping two months later.

Based on a recent IDC estimate of U.S. tablet shipments over the past 12 months, Amazon could have sold 10 million or more Kindle Fires.

IDC projects total U.S. tablet shipments will total 51.6 million in 2012.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has signaled that a Kindle Fire successor is in the works. Some observers say it could be announced next Thursday in Santa Monica, Calif.

"Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead--we will continue to offer our customers the best hardware, the best prices, the best customer service, the best cross-platform interoperability and the best content ecosystem," Bezos said in a prepared statement.

Bezos said the Kindle Fire is the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon.

Kindle Fire has been sold at a loss, based on some teardown reports of the cost of its parts, but Amazon has probably made a profit because of sales of online products for the device.

Amazon sells a "Prime" membership for $79 a year that allows borrowing of e-books, instant streaming of movies and TV shows and free shipping of thousands of products sold via Amazon.com.

Amazon reportedly could be announcing a larger Kindle Fire-like device than the current 7-in. version, or even a smartphone.

Staples recently put the Kindle Fire on sale for $179, an indication that resellers were clearing out inventory to make way for a second-generation Amazon tablet.

In a spot check of a Staples store in Harrisonburg, Va., a sales clerk said the last Kindle Fire it had in stock was sold on Wednesday.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about tablets in Computerworld's Tablets Topic Center.

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