Worldwide tablet shipments totaled 27.8 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. The tablet market grew 49.5% year over year in 3Q12 and 6.7% over the second quarter of 2012. Android shipments, led by Samsung and Amazon, surged during the quarter, at the expense of Apple, which saw its share slip notably during the quarter.

“After a very strong second quarter, Apple saw growth slow as both consumer and commercial (including education) shipments declined, and rumors of a forthcoming iPad mini began to heat up,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC, in the press release. “We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini. Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, we believe the mini’s relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter.”

Apple’s slowdown put a sizeable dent in the company’s commanding worldwide market tablet share, which slipped from 65.5% in 2Q12 to 50.4% in 3Q12. The remaining top five tablet vendors all gained share during the quarter as a result. Most notable was the impressive quarter turned out by Samsung—driven by its Galaxy Tab and Note 10.1. Samsung shipped 5.1 million tablets worldwide in 3Q12, up 115.0% from 2Q12; that’s an increase of 325.0% from 3Q11, when it shipped 1.2 million tablets.

The top 5 was rounded out by Amazon, ASUS, and Lenovo; with all three vendors experiencing sequential growth over 2Q12 while Lenovo and ASUS also saw solid year-over-year growth. Amazon, which did not have product in 3Q11, announced new 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets late in the quarter, and began shipping the new 7-inch HD version (in addition to a refreshed version of the original 7-inch Fire) in mid-September. This helped grow its worldwide market share from 4.8% in 2Q12 to 9.0% in 3Q12, despite only shipping in the U.S. (the company began shipping into five additional countries in 4Q12). ASUS’ share growth was backed by strong shipments of its Google-branded Nexus 7 device; Lenovo’s gains were driven by strong shipments in China.

“Samsung took advantage of an opportunity in the second quarter,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, in the press release. “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.”

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Third Quarter 2012 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in millions)
IDC: Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Third Quarter 2012 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in millions)
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, November 5, 2012 (preliminary data)

Table Notes:
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.

Chart: Worldwide Tablet Vendors Market Share, 2012Q3Description: Worldwide Quarterly Tablet TrackerIDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tracker provides total market size and vendor share for both the Tablet and eReader markets in 46 countries. Detailed segmentation is provided by CPU, operating system, connectivity type, screen size and resolution, storage, distribution channel, and customer segment. Measurement for this tracker is in units, value, and end-user price. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com. Further detail about this tracker can be found at:http://www.idc.com/tracker/showproductinfo.jsp?prod_id=81Tags: Samsung, Apple, Amazon, Asus, Lenovo, Tablet, IDC, tracker, Q3 2012, 3Q 2012, market share, galaxy, iPad, Kindle, Transformer, ideapad, 2012Q3Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Source: International Data Corporation

MacDailyNews Take: As expected, iPad sales paused somewhat ahead of heavy rumors of iPad mini. This we already knew from Apple’s most recent earning report. IDC’s numbers are based on estimates. Amazon and Samsung do not report tablet unit sales or shipments and IDC’s numbers for all vendors not named Apple include “shipments to distribution channels.” Stuff the channel and IDC give you credit in their market share tallies. The 14 million attributed to Apple are iPad units sold as stated in Apple’s fiscal 2012 fourth quarter (ended September 29, 2012) earnings report.