Amazon on Thursday announced that, among a record-setting 306 items sold per second on the November 26 Cyber Monday, its Kindle Fire line of tablet devices topped the list of the most popular items purchased on the website during the 2012 holiday season.
“Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire, Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle hold the top four spots on the Amazon worldwide best seller charts since launch,” Amazon declared in its press release Thursday.
Amazon launched its new Kindle Fire tablet and Kindle e-reader devices in September 2012, almost a year after it first launched the original Kindle Fire for $199 (that model has since been officially discontinued, or “sold out” in the words of Amazon).
The company still hasn’t revealed exactly how many new Kindle Fire tablets or Kindle e-readers it has sold over this holiday season, or any given time period, symptomatic of its overall aversion to specific sales figures (despite continually claiming to break new internal records). Amazon last said in August that the original Kindle Fire captured 22 percent of the U.S. tablet market share, which one analyst has figured works out to 5 million devices.
Amazon also said Thursday that its own application downloading store, the Amazon Appstore for Android, had “tripled” in selection from 2011 to 2012, also declining to provide specific numbers.
Yet in the past few weeks and days, a few notable apps have come to the Kindle Fire line, which runs a highly customized version of Google’s Android software that isn’t directly compatible with the Google Play store.
Specifically, two apps of note have arrived in Amazon’s Appstore for Android: Lookout, a free mobile security app that purports to protect users from malware as well as help track down their lost or misplaced devices, and ForeverMap 2, a mapping app that gives Kindle Fire owners offline map and navigation capabilities, for varying prices depending on the offline map area downloaded (online map connectivity is free).
When it comes to Lookout, which released its Kindle Fire app on December 25, the company told TPM without reservations that it saw the Kindle Fire platform as a viable and growing one, hence the investment there, as opposed to say, the new Windows Store for Windows 8 and Windows RT tablet devices.
“The Kindle Fire is a must-have device for many consumers, and it’s an important device to secure,” Lookout PR manager Michelle Masek told TPM in an emailed statement. “With more people unwrapping Kindles for Christmas, it was a great time to extend the protections of the Lookout app to Kindle owners.”
Lookout currently also makes apps for Apple iOS devices (the iPhone and iPad) and for devices running less customized versions of Android, which can access Google’s Play store. The company’s basic free account allows users to download the app on two different devices.
Lookout’s capabilities across all devices are similar, as Masek explained to TPM.
“Lookout for Kindle Fire offers the same protections as Lookout for Android (free version),” Masek said. “With Lookout for Kindle Fire, you get essential security protection from downloading malicious apps (I.e., apps packaged with malware or spyware), data backup and the ability to locate a lost or stolen phone on a Google map by logging into your account at lookout.com, even if your Kindle has a dead battery!”
In the few days since the Lookout app has been available for the Kindle Fire in Amazon’s Appstore for Android, Lookout has seen “thousands of Kindle for Lookout downloads,” Masek said, adding: “We expect this number to increase as we drive more awareness around the offering in 2013.”
Lookout’s bet on the Kindle Fire over other new mobile devices and their software platforms, such as Windows 8 and the Microsoft Surface, highlights how seriously the company takes the growing Kindle tablet market.
However, that doesn’t mean Lookout is ready to port its app back to older Kindles. As Masek related: “At this time, there isn’t a plan to extend the offering to earlier generations of Kindle.”
Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD doesn’t offer users a default map app at present. Users can access the Google Maps mobile website if they have an Internet connection, but beyond that, there’s no Google Maps app for Kindle Fire devices — yet.
Amazon is also working with Nokia to provide third-party developers with Nokia’s map and location data on the Kindle Fire.
But in mid-December, yet another map app for Kindle Fire joined the fray: ForeverMap 2, a map application based on the map data compiled by the free-crowdsourced OpenStreetMap project (the so-called “Wikipedia of maps,” because it is assembled by volunteers).
Created by the German mapping and geolocation outfit Skobbler, ForeverMap 2 initially made its debut on the Barnes & Noble Nook App store and then appeared in the Google Play app store for Android devices earlier in December. At the time, Skobbler co-founder Marcus Thielking told TPM that an Amazon app was on the way.
Though ForeverMap 2 has received a mixed rating of just 2.5 stars out of five in Amazon’s Appstore for Android, a company spokesperson told TPM that because the app had only been available for a few weeks.
Thielking told TechCrunch that the reason his company launched for Amazon’s Kindle Fire before even the iPhone and iOS is because “the Kindle Fire has been wildly popular but with no Google Maps and no pre-installed map like most other mobile devices, this is a real opportunity to establish ourselves as the leading brand on this platform, and as a provider of the best map app for its users.”
Correction: This article originally incorrectly stated that ForeverMap 2 made its debut on the Google Play store, when in fact, it debuted in the Barnes & Noble Nook app store. We apologize for the error and have since corrected it.