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By 4 May 2012 | Categories: news

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After revealing its latest research that analysed global mobile phone and smartphone shipments during the first quarter of this year, market research firm IDC (International Data Corporation) now turns its attention to media tablets.

According to the company, a dramatic decrease in the shipment of Android-based tablets offset a strong quarter from Apple. This resulted in the media tablet market missing projections for Q1 2012. Preliminary data from the company’s Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker service, has shown that the total global media tablet shipments for this quarter reached 17.4 million units, a full 1.2 million units less than the IDC’s projection for Q1 2012.

Cupertino solidifies its position as market leader

Tom Mainelli, research director for Mobile Connected Devices at IDC stated that Apple reasserted its dominance in the market during Q1 2012, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop dramatically following the lucrative holiday season.

“Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers,” Mainelli explained. “And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well.”

The Cupertino-based iPhone maker shipped 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, which is down from the 15.4 million devices shipped during Q4 2011. Even so, the company increased its worldwide share from 54.7% in Q4 2011 to a whopping 68% in Q1 2012.

Samsung takes second place from Amazon

During Q4 2011 Amazon found itself in second place behind Apple, when it snapped up 16.8% tablet market share by shipping 4.8 million mobile devices. Within Q1 2012 though, the Kindle maker saw its market share crumbling to just over 4%, resulting in the company being relegated to third place by Samsung.

With the Korean tech giant in second spot and Amazon in third, Lenovo vaulted into the number four spot, whilst Barnes & Noble claimed fifth position. The IDC said that companies such as  Samsung and Lenovo are beginning to gain traction in the tablet market with their latest generation of Android products. IDC expects the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products during Q2 and beyond.

Competitive pricing a critical factor in the sales success of Android tablets

“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points,” Mainelli added.

The IDC expect Amazon to release a new, larger-screened tablet at a typically aggressive price point this year, whilst it believes that Google will enter the tablet market with an inexpensive, co-branded Asus tablet.

This tablet is to be designed to compete directly on price with Amazon’s Kindle Fire and should operate on a pure version of Android, just like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. In contrast, the Fire is powered by Amazon’s own forked version of the mobile OS that cuts Google out of the picture.

And what of the Redmond factor?

According to the IDC, the impact that Microsoft Windows 8- and Windows RT-based tablets will have on the overall tablet market is yet to be determined. These mobile devices are widely expected to ship into the market by Q4 2012.

The analytics firm said that pricing on these new Windows-powered tablets hasn’t been announced yet, but as with the Android-running devices, this will be a critical factor in winning over consumers.

Another prominent factor in the success of Redmond-flavoured tablets will be how users respond to the new operating system, as well as how successful Microsoft is at integrating these devices with its traditional Windows systems.

“The worldwide tablet market is entering a new phase in the second half of 2012 that will undoubtedly reshape the competitive landscape,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays.

“While Apple will continue to sit comfortably on the top for now, the battle for the next several positions is going to be fierce. Throw in Ultrabooks, the launch of Windows 8, and a few surprise product launches, and you have all the makings of an incredible 2012 holiday shopping season.”

In related news, market research firm Gartner recently asserted that worldwide media tablet sales to end users are forecast to reach 118.9 million units this year, a 98% increase from 2011’s sales of 60 million units.

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