Amazon’s Kindle Fire owns 22 percent of the US tablet market, the online retail giant announced Thursday. The figure comes as Amazon preps to likely announce a new tablet next week, along with girding to take-on Google’s $199 Nexus 7 device.

According to Amazon, “in just nine months, Kindle Fire has captured 22 percent of sales in the US,” PaidContent reports. Accustomed to being fed amorphous Kindle marketing stats like “a lot” and “most in our history,” the concreteness of the announcement was surprising. However, after the initial shock, there began questions, like 22 percent of what?

Amazon would prefer its 22 percent sales figure be judged against U.S. sales, which puts it in third place behind Apple with 55 percent and Android with 35 percent, according to Fortune. But what about internationally? Like the wizard from “The Wizard of Oz,” who implores Dorothy not to look behind the curtain, Amazon would like it if you didn’t ask such pesky questions.

While Amazon Kindle Fire’s domestic sales land it in a respectable third-place, Kindle Fire’s global shipments are in the single digits: 4.2 percent, according to IHS iSuppli. The iPad (both the iPad 2 and iPad 3) owned 70 percent of global shipments during the second-quarter of this year.

Even more less-than-spectacular Kindle Fire numbers turned up during the recent Apple-Samsung legal battle. There, it was estimated Amazon sold 6.1 million Kindle Fires in the US over a nine month period. Analyst had earlier predicted Amazon would sell 6 million Kindle Fires in a single three-month quarter.

All of which means Amazon next week not only has to deliver a tablet that stay in the same ballpark as the iPad feature-wise, but must also remain inexpensive enough to prevent Google’s $199 tablet from snuffing out the Fire.

What do you think? What features must Amazon’s new Kindle Fire introduce next week to keep the tablet competitive?