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Survey: iPad of most interest to tablet buyers, while Kindle Fire fades

When Amazon brought out its Kindle Fire tablet in November last year, industry watchers looked on with jaws slightly ajar as they waited to see if the smaller, cheaper, new tablet on the block from a firm that could create a buzz would have any impact on the market dominance Apple was enjoying with its iPad.

It looked promising for Amazon early on, with the Fire selling in large numbers in the run up to Christmas — although the e-commerce giant declined to release exact figures. Last month, however, jaws resumed their normal position as data from market analysis firm IDC suggested sales of the Amazon tablet have fallen sharply since the holidays. Meanwhile, Apple released the new iPad, cut the price of its iPad 2, and carried on selling its two tablets by the truckload.

According to the results of a new survey by research firm ChangeWave, it seems the current buying trends are set to continue.

Of the 2,893 North American consumers questioned, 7 percent said they were planning to purchase a new tablet in the next 90 days, and of those, 73 percent said it was most likely to be an iPad. A paltry 8 percent said they were most likely to opt for the Kindle Fire — down from 22 percent last November when the tablet first hit the stores — while 6 percent were most interested in a Samsung tablet.

“Kindle Fire planned buying is now down two-thirds since November 2011, and a clue to Amazon’s problem can be seen in the tablet satisfaction ratings of its owners,” ChangeWave said in its report, pointing towards data showing 81 percent of iPad 3 owners were “very satisfied” with their device, while a still impressive 71 percent of those with an iPad 2 were happy with theirs. In contrast, 41 percent of Kindle Fire owners said they were “very satisfied” with their tablet.

Of course, the Kindle Fire is only a shade over six months old and is yet to receive a refresh. Amazon will be hoping an updated device with improved features will garner more interest and boost sales, though if recent rumors turn out to be true, it’ll have to beat off the challenge of an iPad Mini.

According to ChangeWave, most analysts believe that if an iPad Mini is launched it’ll come with a 7-inch screen — the same as the Kindle Fire’s — and be priced $100 higher than the Fire at $299.

Where will those looking for a tablet put their money then?