Ecommerce giant Amazon said its Kindle Fire has captured 22% of the US market for tablet computers and that the device is "sold out," in a hint that a new model is coming.
Amazon, which has scheduled a Sept. 6 news event in California widely believed to be a launch for a new version of its tablet, has normally kept its sales data tightly guarded.
But the latest news suggests it has sold several million of the tablets in the U.S., which is expected to see 2012 sales of some 35 million. The Kindle Fire was launched in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"Kindle Fire quickly became the most successful product launch in the history of Amazon.com, earning over 10,000 five-star customer reviews, and is the No. 1 best-selling product across the millions of items available on Amazon since its introduction 48 weeks ago," Amazon said in a statement.
"Today, Amazon announced that Kindle Fire is sold out, and that in just nine months, Kindle Fire has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S."
Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, gave the strongest hint to date that a new version of the tablet will be coming.
"Kindle Fire is sold out, but we have an exciting roadmap ahead," Bezos said. "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."
Apple's iPad has about two-thirds of the global market for tablets, and the company is expected to introduce a smaller version of it later this year.
The Kindle Fire costs $199, less than half the price of the cheapest iPad.
It has a 7-inch screen, smaller than the iPad's 9.7 inches, connects to the Web using Wi-Fi and is powered by a modified version of Google's Android operating system.
Amazon said separately it is launching its Amazon Appstore in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, offering Android apps.
"Customers in the U.S. have purchased millions of apps, games, in-app items and subscriptions since the store launched last year," said Jim Adkins, vice president of Amazon Appstore.
"Amazon has spent years developing innovative features that help customers find and discover the products that are right for them and have applied that know-how to the Amazon Appstore. We're delighted to extend that experience to our European customers."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012