For a while, it looked like Apple was going to utterly dominate the tablet market forever. Xooms, Xyboards, and Transformers came and went – accomplishing little more than building the world’s biggest collection of store shelf dust. But today Android slates have grown in quality and quantity, while shrinking in screen size and price. In the first quarter of 2013, they continued to eat into the iPad’s market share.
IDC just released its latest quarterly tablet market report. One of the biggest highlights is the size of the market itself. It grew 142 percent year-over-year, with global shipments in the quarter passing the numbers for the first half of 2012. If there was any question where the bulk of those shrinking PC sales are going, there you have it.
Market share musical chairsThere was also, as we mentioned, a bit of a shakeup in market share. It’s no surprise that Apple still sells the most tablets (by a longshot), but that lead isn’t nearly as big as it used to be. The iPad’s share of global shipments dropped to just under 40 percent (on 19.5 million units) – way down from the 65+ percent share it enjoyed in Q1 2012.
The biggest beneficiary of the new world order was (surprise, surprise) Samsung. It stayed in second place, but jumped from 11 percent of the market to about 18 percent (8.8 million units). That was by far the biggest leap any tablet maker made year-over-year.
ASUS bumped Amazon from the #3 slot, with 5.5 percent (2.7 million units) of shipments. IDC estimates that Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets took 3.7 percent (1.8 million units) of global tablet shipments.
Microsoft’s Surface tablets made their first appearance on the list, with 1.8 percent of all shipments (around 900,000 units). Windows tablets as a whole moved 1.8 million units. It’s still a new platform, but if Surfaces make up half of all Windows 8 tablet shipments, then Microsoft’s OEM partners can’t be happy.
What does this mean?For starters, this means that the iPad is no longer untouchable. Make no mistake: it’s still in the driver’s seat, but more customers are open to looking elsewhere.
It might also mean that Samsung’s tablets are enjoying a halo effect, breathing in the fumes of the company’s insanely successful smartphones and phablets. The company sells several Galaxy Note tablets, a few more Galaxy Tabs, and it also manufactured Google’s Nexus 10 (yes, those count as Samsung shipments).
Amazon shipped more Kindle Fires than it did a year ago, but its share remained roughly the same. It will be interesting to see if Jeff Bezos and company make a bolder move in 2013 to try to pick up some momentum ... and better fend off the threat from the identically-priced Nexus 7.
CaveatsOne big thing to keep in mind here revolves around semantics. Remember that these are shipments, not sales. If every retailer sold the same percentage of each tablet, then these numbers would directly equate to sales. But that’s highly unlikely.
Also remember that market share doesn’t always directly correlate with revenues and profits. Apple’s profit margins are legendary, and its percentage of tablet profits obliterates every other competitor: by a much wider margin than these market share numbers suggest.