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Android And Apple Dominate Tablet Market As Microsoft Surface Sells 900,000

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined
as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Apple and Samsung lead the way in shipments as Microsoft enters top five for the first time

The worldwide tablet market defied the traditional seasonal slump in demand during the first quarter of 2012 as manufacturers shifted 49.2 million units – more than the entire first half of 2012.

According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, shipments rose by 142.4 percent year-on-year as demand for smaller devices like the iPad Mini, Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7 increased over the last twelve months.

Apple remains the largest manufacturer of tablets in the world and was only slightly affected by the post-Christmas drop in demand, shipping 19.5 million units, more than the forecast 18.7 million units.

Worldwide tablet market

microsoftsurface3iPads accounted for 39.6 percent of all tablets sold but the most popular platform was Android. More than half (56.3 percent) of all tablets shipped during the period ran Google’s mobile operating system, thanks to a staggering 247.5 percent year-on-year increase.

Samsung was the second largest manufacturer overall, chiefly thanks to the traction of its smaller tablets, as well as its ability to bring its tablets to new markets where its smartphones have proved popular.

“Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC. “In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.”

Continued demand for the Google Nexus 7 helped Asus claim third spot while Amazon suffered from the seasonal drop to finish fourth.

Windows tablets

Microsoft entered the top five for the first time, thanks to combined shipments of the Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface RT of 900,000. However non-Microsoft tablets struggled to gain traction with consumers as Windows 8 accounted for just 3.3 percent of the market and Windows RT 0.4 percent.

Last month, Microsoft confirmed that it was looking to release smaller tablets, something that IDC thinks will help it improve its fortunes, but will not be the answer to all of its problems

“Recent rumours have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market,” said Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC’s Mobility Tracker program. “However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft’s larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond.”

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