When Amazon announced the original Kindle Fire last year, the tactic and intention was clear: create a really cheap tablet that offered a simple user interface, and easy access to great content. It succeeded, and behind the iPad, it was the best selling tablet.

Following its success and the buzz surrounding Google’s Nexus 7, it seems everyone was waiting for Apple to blow them both out of the water with a smaller form factor tablet, priced just as competitively.

As I’ve always maintained, a sub-$300 Apple tablet was never likely. Then the iPad mini finally launched last Tuesday, alongside a host of shiny new Apple products.

Despite the higher price point, the iPad mini has been popular with hopeful early adopters, as white models all sold out in the first 20 mins, and the black 16GB versions sold out yesterday.

With such hype surrounding the 7.9″ tablet, Amazon’s future could have looked a little bleak. Seemingly, the smaller iPad has had completely the opposite effect. The day after Apple’s announcement, Kindle Fire HD sales tripled week-on-week.

In response to a question about how Kindle sales were faring following Apple’s iPad mini announcement on Tuesday, Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener reported they were selling better than usual. “Wednesday was the $199 Kindle Fire HD’s biggest day of sales since launch and up 3x week over week,” according to a statement emailed to AllThingsD.

It’s quite possible that – leading up to the event – consumers were hopeful of a much cheaper iPad mini. The holidays are closing in, and people are undoubtedly wanting to get their tiny tablet orders in soon.

Without knowing what Apple had up its sleeve prior to the launch event, it would have been impossible to make a decision before knowing the cost of Cupertino’s latest gadget. For those with a strict budget, the iPad mini is simply not an option at $329, and so the Kindle Fire HD or Nexus 7 are still the only viable choices.

What do you think about the long term future of the smaller Android tablets? Will they survive the next couple of years, or will Apple completely dominate every sector of the tablet market? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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