Tablet Sales

WASHINGTON, November 14, 2011 (AFP) – Amazon began shipping the Kindle Fire on Monday as initial reviews were mixed for the touchscreen tablet computer seen as a potentially strong rival to Apple’s market-leading iPad. The Seattle, Washington-based online retail giant had initially planned to ship the Kindle Fire, which at $199 costs less than half the cheapest iPad, on Tuesday but it began sending them to customers a day early.

Dave Limp, vice president of Amazon Kindle, said the Fire is already the “bestselling item across all of Amazon.com” and the company was “building millions more than we’d planned” because of the customer response.

As usual, though, Amazon did not provide any actual sales figures.

The Kindle Fire has a seven-inch (17.78-centimeter) screen, smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inches (24.6 cm), connects to the Web using Wi-Fi and is powered by Google’s Android software.

It does not have a camera or the 3G connectivity featured on other tablets but it gives buyers easy access to Amazon’s online store, which sells books, music, movies, television shows, games and other content.

Technology reviewers were divided in their appraisal of the device after getting their hands on preview mod