First, there was the iPad. Not really, but to hear many consumers tell the history of the tablet computer, this is the case that you will hear. The iPad broke open the tablet market in a way never seen before, riding on the coattails of its immensely popular cousins the iPhone and iPod. Suddenly tablet computers went from labs and clinics to your mom's coffee table, and for a while that was basically how it was, if you owned a tablet there was almost no chance that it was anything other than an iPad. Things are changing, and Apples tablet dominance may finally be in question.
A new IDC report shows tablet market growth for Q3 of 2012, and things are not looking good for Apple. Almost all of their competitors managed to grow at rates of over 100-percent, yet Apple only managed 26.1-percent, a poor showing in comparison. Samsung was the real winner last quarter, growing at a rate of 325-percent year-over-year, now holding onto an impressive 18.4-percent of the market.
According to Ryan Reith, program manager at IDC's Mobile Device Trackers division:
"Samsung took advantage of an opportunity in the second quarter…The company offers a wide range of tablet offerings across multiple screen sizes and colors, and that clearly resonated with more buyers this quarter. Its growth to 18.4% of worldwide market share during the quarter represents the first time a competitor has attained this level of share since the original launch of the iPad."
"Competitors are turning up the pressure on market leader Apple," Reith added. "With the recent introduction of a number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, consumers now have a third viable tablet platform from which to choose. However, price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500."Advertisement
Samsung's growth was fueled by sales of the Galaxy Tab and Note 10.1 tablet, shipping out 5.1 million total tablets in the third quarter alone. But what precipitated Apples decline? Analysts believe it's most likely the anticipation of new Apple devices during the third quarter led many die-hard fans to postpone purchases until the new devices were available. The bulk of the new device sales will come in the fourth quarter, partially driven by the holiday season.
Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Third Quarter 2012 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in millions)
3Q12 Market Share
3Q11 Market Share
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, November 5, 2012 (preliminary data)
- Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports.
- Amazon didn't begin shipments of its tablet products until 4Q11
- Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.
The big questions regarding Apples continued dominance of the tablet market can only be answered after the results of the fourth quarter are finalized. Can Samsung keep pushing itself deeper into the market? What effect will the new generation of Nexus devices have on future sales growth? One thing is certain, Apple may be king, but the crown is in danger.