Apple’s iPad led the charge as total worldwide tablet shipments hit a record 52.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to IDC’s preliminary data from its Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, but its market share continued to slide due to competition from Samsung. Meanwhile, PC shipments declined during the quarter for the first time in more than five years. The tablet market grew 75.3 percent year-over-year, and increased 74.3 percent from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units, helped along by holiday purchases, lower average selling prices and a wider range of products.
“We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn’t disappoint. New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season,” said Tom Mainelli, tablet research director at IDC.
Apple shipped a total of 22.9 million units, boosted by the launch of the iPad mini, as well as the fourth-generation full-sized iPad. But while Apple’s iPad shipments grew 48.1 percent over the same quarter last year, Apple’s market share slipped for the second quarter in a row (down to 43.6 percent from 46.4 percent last quarter) as No. 2 vendor Samsung continued to nip at the Cupertino company’s heels. Samsung enjoyed 263 percent, shipping nearly 8 million combined Android and Windows 8 tablets durings the quarter. It still holds 15.1 percent of the market, the same as from the previous quarter.
Competing vendors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble both saw an uptick in their market share thanks to the holiday season. Amazon shipped more than 6 million tablets during the quarter, increasing its share to 11.5 percent from 8.3 percent the previous quarter, with year-over-year growth of 26.8 percent. Barnes and Noble shipped almost a million units, increasing its share up to 1.9 percent from 0.7 percent, but its total dropped by 27.7 percent year-over-year. Microsoft’s new Surface with Windows RT tablet failed to reach the top five with just short of 900,000 units shipped. IDC said that Microsoft and its partners may need to create smaller devices and lower prices in order to compete because consumers are shying away from more expensive tablets with desktop operating systems.
“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, 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,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC.