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Record Number Of Tablet Shipments In Q4

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 still leads the way but its market share is sliding

A record 52.5 million tablets were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2012 as rival tablet manufacturers closed the gap on Apple and its market leading iPad range.

According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, tablet shipments grew 75.3 percent from 29.9 units shipped in the same quarter last year, thanks to a combination of new product offerings, lower average selling prices and increased spending over the Christmas period.

iPad Mini Lead

iPad leads the way

“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,” he added.

Apple continues to lead the way, shipping 22.9 million units during the period, an increase of 48.1 percent. The rise was attributed to the strong launch of the iPad Mini and continued demand for the latest version its flagship iPad.

However its market share slipped for the second quarter in a row and currently stands at 43.6 due to increased competition. More worrying are reports that Sharp has virtually ceased production of iPad screens as demand for the full sized iPad decreases.

Samsung was the main beneficiary with shipments of its Windows 8 and Android tablets increasing by 263 percent. The Korean manufacturer shifted eight million tablets in total, securing it a 15.1 percent share.

Microsoft Surface struggles

Amazon shipped six million tablets to increase its share to 11.5 percent and secure third place, while Asus saw its share slip from 7.8 percent to 5.8 percent despite strong sales for the Google Nexus 7.

Barnes and Noble propped up the top five, but Microsoft and its Surface RT tablet was conspicuous by its absence after shipping less than a million units.

“Devices based upon its 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. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes.”

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