Will Amazon’s $200 tablet spark interest among schools?

Amazon has never said precisely how many Kindle eReaders it has sold, but its higher sales of eBooks than print books indicates it’s a strong performer. Given this, and the general popularity of tablets, expectations are high for the Fire.

Rubin thinks consumers will become fans of the tablet, saying it offers a more complete media consumption experience than what Barnes & Noble has provided with the Nook Color, which came out last year.

Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman Epps thinks Amazon could sell as many as 5 million Fires by the end of the year, but thinks it will probably be closer to 3 million because it’s coming out so late. Apple, by comparison, has sold nearly 29 million iPads since it released the first one in April 2010, and more than 9 million in the June quarter alone.

In addition to being the new tablet on the block, the Kindle Fire faces other challenges. On the content side, the Amazon Appstore currently includes more than 16,000 apps, but this is just a small fraction of the 425,000 apps in Apple’s App Store, more than 100,000 of which are tailored specifically for the iPad. On the tablet side, the device’s screen is on the small side, which means less space for watching movies and more panning around when surfing the web. And it will only be able to access the internet over Wi-Fi, not over wireless carriers’ high-speed data networks.

Still, Epps believes Amazon’s decision to lead with content and services, rather than hardware, will help it prosper with the Kindle Fire.

“Apple will still be the clear market leader, but Amazon will still be a clear No. 2 because of that strategy,” she said.

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