By 31 January 2013 | Categories: news


Global shipments of tablets have gone on to outpace predictions, reaching a record total of 52.5 million units during Q4 2012. This, according to preliminary data from market research company IDC’s (International Data Corporation’s) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker service.

The tablet market grew by a massive 75.3% year-on-year, up from a worldwide shipment tally of 29.9 million units for Q4 2011 and also increased by 74.3% from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units. Driving this high levels of growth are lower average selling prices (ASPs), a wide range of new product offerings available, as well as increased holiday spending, according to the analytics company.

Tom Mainelli, research director for Tablets at IDC explained that new product launches from the category’s top vendors, along with Windows RT and 8-operating entries from Microsoft and co, culminated in a surge of consumer interest during the holiday season.

Mainelli stated that this record-breaking quarter for tablets is the exact opposite to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years.

Apple still keeps the tablet thrown warm

Apple’s iPad once again led the market, with the Cupertino-based firm’s shipment totalling 22.9 million units. The iPad mini’s popularity plus the availability of the fourth generation full-sized iPad, resulted in a significant 48.1% shipment growth compared to the same quarter last year.

However, IDC did note that as a result of strong competition in the market, Cupertino’s market share declined for the second quarter in a row from 46.4% during Q3 2012 to 43.6% for Q4 2012.

One of the competitors eating away at the iPad’s dominance is number two vendor Samsung, which experienced 263% year-on-year growth. The Korean firm’s shipped almost eight million combined Android and Windows 8-running tablets during the quarter, snagging 15.1% market share in the process.

Completing the top 3 vendors is Kindle-maker Amazon, which shipped six million tablets, giving it a 11.5% stake in the market. Asus came in fourth, courtesy of its 3.1 million tablet shipment tally, providing it with a reduced market share of 5.8% (down from Q3 2012’s 7.8%). However, the Taiwanese firm’s total of more than three million tablets, marks the biggest (402.5%) year-on-year growth rate for any of the top tablet manufacturers. In fifth place is Barnes & Noble as it shipped a million tablets for nearly 2% market share.

Redmond’s Surface scratches the tablet sales surface

Microsoft entered the tablet market during Q4 2012 with its Surface with Windows RT tablet, and failed to reach the top five after shipping just under 900 000 units into the channel, according to IDC.

Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC stated that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. Reith added that “devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best.”

“We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes,” Reith concluded.

In related news, IDC also recently revealed that global PC shipments totaled 89.8 million units during Q4 2012, marking a drop of 6.4% year-on-year.


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