Research firm IDC today announced its preliminary estimates of worldwide tablet shipments for the fourth quarter of 2012, finding that Apple's share of the market slipped to 43.6% even as the iPad mini drove a nearly 50% growth in units for the company. Apple had held a 50.4% share in the previous quarter and a 51.7% share in the year-ago quarter.
"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."
Apple's iPad once again led the market, and the firm's shipment total of 22.9 million units was exactly in line with IDC's forecast for the period. A strong iPad mini launch, plus availability of the fourth generation full-sized iPad, led to solid 48.1% shipment growth over the same quarter last year. However, strong competition in the market led to Apple's market share declining for a second quarter in a row (down to 43.6% from 46.4% last quarter).
Samsung and Asus were the biggest winners in the surging tablet market, with Samsung seeing 263% year-over-year growth to seize 15% of the market. Samsung's share was, however, down from 18.4% in the third quarter.
IDC notes that Microsoft did not qualify for the top five vendors in the fourth quarter, but the company did ship 900,000 units of its Surface tablet with Windows RT. It remains to be seen, however, whether those shipments and the upcoming Surface Pro tablet will translate into strong sales for the company.
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Top Rated Comments
The only FACTUAL report in there is APPLE's SOLD.
Everything else is GUESSING and not FACTUAL.
... the only thing in the data that we can be sure about is that sales of Apple's iPad grew 48.1% year over year -- from 15.1 million to 22.9 million. We and IDC know this because Apple (AAPL) reported those unit sales figures last week
The rest of IDC's report is almost entirely guesswork. It says that Samsung shipped 7.9 million tablets -- up 263% -- but doesn't say how it got those numbers. Certainly not from Samsung, which hasn't released unit sales figures for any of its devices in years.
IDC also says that Amazon (AMZN) shipped 6 million Kindles -- up 26.8%. This despite the fact that Amazon has never once said how many Kindles it sold, a policy that remained conspicuously in force during Tuesday's Q4 2012 earnings call.
As for the rest of IDC's findings, they just get more bizarre. The press release says Barnes & Noble (BKS) "gained traction" in the tablet market, but the spreadsheet shows Nook sales falling year over year. Even more startling, the release says Asus lost share, while the spreadsheet shows Asus' market share nearly tripling on sales that grew 402.5%.
But hey...lets continue to believe reporting that is based on guesswork.
How standards have fallen.
If I sell one unit in 2012 and four in 2013 I've had a 400% SURGE in growth! If I sell 4 million in 2012 and 6 million in 2013 I've only grown by a mere 50%.
If you look at actual increase in units shipped, Apple has grown faster than anyone else by a good deal.
The point is that the market leader will always lose market share as a market matures - this is inevitable.
You forgot "but only Apple reports sales to end users. Shipments are stuck in the retail channel."
Seriously though, if the point of the study is to show Apple is becoming less of a dominant player, both of those comments are legitimate criticisms. Time for the other companies to grow up and stop deceiving us with BS "shipment" numbers.