With the Kindle Fire, Amazon is getting into the tablet space in a big way and unlike other tablet manufacturers, which have found it difficult to compete head-on with the iPad, Amazon has developed a device that may very well allow it to compete with it in a more indirect way.

Apple isn’t worried, but a new survey suggests that the Kindle Fire is having a direct impact on the iPad.

According to a ChangeWave survey of 2,600 consumers, 5% of the participants indicated that they had pre-ordered the Kindle Fire, or were very likely to buy it when it’s available. When the original iPad was released in 2010, slightly fewer (4%) of participants in a similar survey had pre-ordered the iPad or stated they were very likely to purchase it.

More importantly, of the 5% of those soon-to-be Kindle Fire owners, more than a quarter (26%) indicated that they were delaying an iPad purchase as a result of their Kindle Fire interest.

Obviously, one might reasonably question whether it’s wise to draw conclusions about the Kindle Fire’s impact on the iPad before it’s actually available and based on a survey of 2,600 consumers.

What’s interesting, however, is that ChangeWave’s survey, according to Forbes, was conducted amongst “early adopter types.” With a price point of $199, Amazon is targeting the mainstream consumer market, which is filled with individuals who can’t or aren’t willing to shell out hundreds of dollars more for an iPad.

The net-net: if early adopter types are interested in the Kindle Fire, and a decent chunk of them are delaying an iPad purchase, that’s notable, because the majority of those who will likely be purchasing a Kindle Fire may not even be in the market for an iPad.

If Amazon can shift some demand from iPad while tapping into a portion of the market Apple isn’t, the tablet market could get very interesting very quickly. The rumors that Apple has cut iPad production due to moderating sales, if true, will only create more debate and discussion.

Of course, at the end of the day, Amazon has to deliver a device that meets or exceeds expectations. The Kindle Fire looks good on paper, but if Amazon disappoints, interest in the device could evaporate.

That would be good news for Apple CEO Tim Cook, but it does appear Amazon is doing something few tablet manufacturers have been able to: convince consumers that there just might be a viable alternative to the iPad.