Worldwide tablet shipments outpaced predictions reaching a record total of 52.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. The tablet market grew 75.3% year over year in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11) and increased 74.3% from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units. Lower average selling prices (ASPs), a wide range of new product offerings, and increased holiday spending all acted as catalysts to push the already climbing tablet market to record levels.

“We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn’t disappoint,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets, at IDC, in a statement. “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. Distant number two vendor Samsung is estimated to have shipped 7.9 million combined Android and Windows 8 tablets during the quarter for 15.1% of the market, its same market share total from the previous quarter.

Amongst the other top 5 vendors, Amazon shipped more than 6 million tablets during the quarter, increasing its share to 11.5%, up from 8.3% the previous quarter, with year-over year growth of 26.8%; Barnes & Noble shipped close to a million units, increasing its share to 1.9%, up from 0.7%, despite a year-over-year growth rate of -27.7%. Meanwhile, number four Asus saw its share slip from 7.8% to 5.8% despite the availability of its Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet. Microsoft entered the market during the quarter with its Surface with Windows RT tablet, but failed to reach the top five after shipping just shy of 900,000 units into the channel.

“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, 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, in a statement. “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.”

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Fourth Quarter 2012 (Preliminary) (Units Shipments are in millions)
IDC: Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Fourth Quarter 2012 (Preliminary)
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, January 31, 2013 (preliminary data). Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports. Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.

Chart: Top Five Worldwide Tablet Vendors, 2012Q4 Five Quarter Market Share Change (Units)Description: 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, Barnes Noble Tablet, IDC, tracker, Q4 2012, 4Q 2012, market share, galaxy, iPad, Kindle, Transformer, Nook, 2012Q4Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Source: International Data Corporation

MacDailyNews Take: Wonder what Apple’s profit share is of the tablet market? In excess of 85%, if we had to make a rough guess. And that’s likely conservative, considering that Apple owns 71% of the world’s smartphone profits with 21.8% of worldwide smartphone market share.

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Apple rakes in 71% of the world’s smartphone profits – September 8, 2012