Analyst: Amazon could sell 3-5M tablets in Q4 could sell between 3 million and 5 million units of its reportedly forthcoming tablet and could pose the most serious challenge to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominant iPad, according to a new report from Forrester Research.  

Apple quarterly ipad shipments

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The research firm argued that Amazon could force Apple to prepare for battle, put pressure on tablet OEMs using Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, and serve as a catalyst for Android tablet application development.

"Even though Amazon taking on Apple is a bit like David taking on Goliath (compare the market cap, profits, and cash position of the two companies), Amazon's willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market," Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps wrote in a blog post. "If Amazon launches a tablet at a sub-$300 price point--assuming it has enough supply to meet demand--we see Amazon selling 3-5 million tablets in Q4 alone."

A July report in the Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, said Amazon will release an as-yet-unnamed tablet product running Android before October. The device will sport a 9-inch display but will not have a camera, and will be designed by an Asian manufacturer, the report said. It's unclear whether the device will have cellular data capabilities.

Forrester's Epps argued Amazon will need to differentiate itself from other Android tablets, which have so far failed to attract the kind of success the iPad has garnered. "Barnes & Noble has chosen to emphasize its own brand and user experience on the Nook Color rather than emphasize the Google or Android brands, even though the Nook is built on Android," the report said. "Amazon may not wish to go that far on the curation spectrum, but it does need to differentiate its flavor of Android from all the rest, and that may come from emphasizing the Amazon experience over the Google one."

Forrester predicts Apple will still retain the majority of the tablet market but that Amazon could be a disruptive force. Apple sold nearly 14.8 million iPads worldwide in 2010 and another 12.6 million in the first six months of 2011.

For more:
- see this Forrester blog post
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Dow Jones Newswires article (sub. req.)
- see this Fortune post

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