Emily Tan
Feb 1, 2013

Tablet sales soar, Apple still leads, but Samsung doubles market share

GLOBAL - Worldwide tablet shipments grew by 75 per cent year-on-year to reach 52.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, while Apple remains the leading vendor despite seeing its market share decline to 44 per cent from 52 per cent a year earlier, according to IDC.

Tablet sales soar, Apple still leads, but Samsung doubles market share

Apple met forecasts with sales of 22.9 million units, thanks to a strong iPad mini launch and the  availability of the fourth-generation full-sized iPad resulting in 48 per cent growth over the same quarter in 2011. However, strong competition in the market led to Apple's market share declining for the second quarter in a row from 46 per cent in Q3 2012. 

Samsung overtook Amazon as the world's second largest tablet vendor with 263 per cent year-on-year growth, shipping nearly 8 million combined Android and Windows 8 tablets during the quarter to grab 15 per cent of the market, double its share in the same quarter the previous year. 

Despite slipping to third spot, Amazon still shipped more than 6 million tablets during the quarter, increasing its share to 11.5 per cent from 8.3 per cent in the previous quarter, with a year-on-year growth of 27 per cent. 

Asus, on the other hand, saw its share slip from 7.8 per cent to 5.8 per cent, despite continued strong shipments of its Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet and the highest year-over-year increase at 402.3 per cent. 

Microsoft entered the market with Surface and the Windows RT tablet, but failed to reach the top five after only selling 900,000 units.

"Devices based on Microsoft's 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. "We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices."

While consumers may eventually grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium, for the time being, Microsoft's devices need to "come down to drive higher volumes", said Reith. 

"We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn't disappoint," said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets, at IDC. "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. The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years."

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