IDC: Apple makes big gains in tablet market, Android slumps

A steep drop in shipments of Android-based tablets offset a strong quarter from Apple and caused the media tablet market to miss projections for the first quarter of 2012 (1Q12), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker. Total worldwide media tablet shipments for the quarter reached 17.4 million units in 1Q12, 1.2 million units below IDC’s projection for the quarter. While IDC predicted a sharp seasonal slowdown of -34% from the previous quarter’s record-breaking 28.2 million units, the actual decline was slightly steeper at -38.4%. The total still represents a robust year-over-year growth rate of 120%, up from 7.9 million units in the first quarter of 2011.

“Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC, in the press release. “Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well.”

Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, and grew its worldwide share from 54.7% in 4Q11 to 68% in 1Q12. Amazon, which stormed into the market in 4Q11 to grab second place with 16.8% of the market on shipment of 4.8 million units, saw its share decline significantly in the first quarter to just over 4%, falling to third place as a result. Samsung took advantage of Amazon’s weakness to regain the number two position while Lenovo vaulted into the number four spot, followed by Barnes & Noble at number five.

Although total Android shipments were down sharply in 1Q12, companies such as Samsung and Lenovo are beginning to gain traction in the market with their latest generation of Android products. IDC expects the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products in the second quarter and beyond.

“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points,” Mainelli added. “We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point, and Google will enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The search giant’s new tablet will run a pure version of Android, whereas the Fire runs Amazon’s own forked version of the OS that cuts Google out of the picture.”

The impact that Microsoft Windows 8- and Windows RT-based tablets, which are widely expected to ship into the market by the fourth quarter, will have on the overall tablet market is yet to be determined. Pricing on the new Windows tablets hasn’t been announced, and that will be a critical factor when it comes to winning over consumers. Consumer reception to the new OS and the success of integration with traditional Windows systems will also be critical.

“The worldwide tablet market is entering a new phase in the second half of 2012 that will undoubtedly reshape the competitive landscape,” said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays. “While Apple will continue to sit comfortably on the top for now, the battle for the next several positions is going to be fierce. Throw in Ultrabooks, the launch of Windows 8, and a few surprise product launches, and you have all the makings of an incredible 2012 holiday shopping season.”

Source: International Data Corporation


  1. LOL! It shows that people buy iPads for themselves – but Android tablets as gifts. I’d love to know how many of those Q4 Android tablets are sitting unused in a desk drawer!

  2. Every time I see an article about android tablets I stop for a minute and try to think of which tablets are still on the market….. And the only way windows on tablets will be popular is if people can build their own tablets

  3. “Lenovo vaulted into the number 4 spot”…bizarre description to use in light of how all Apple competing companies continue to self-marginalize themselves with crapware tablet products.

  4. How about a straw poll, how many times do you guys see fake iPads out in the real world? I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a Playbook, Kindle or Touchpad. I’ve seen 1 Galaxy Tab, I’ve never seen a Galaxy Note or its “intelligent Pen”. I have on the other hand seen at least 30 iPads in use in the real world, so my experience is that 96.7% of modern tablets being used in the real world are iPads. I’m sure there must be more fake iPads being used than that, but that’s what I’ve seen. Anyone else?

    1. I know I’ve seen one non-iPad in the real world… being used a camera. I may have seen others but since the trade dress is so copied it’s harder to be sure with tablets than with Android phones.

    2. My real-world sightings:
      March, 2010, Panama City, FL – saw 1 Kindle
      March, 2011, Longview, TX – saw 1 Android tablet
      October, 2011, Tyler, TX – saw 1 Galaxy Tab 7.1

      So few, I remember all of them. Other than that, I just see them collecting dust at BB.

  5. I’m flabbergasted! ok firstly I just visited Amazon and I was amazed at how they went about promoting it’s Kindle fire, in their key selling points this is what it says “Vibrant color touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle – same as an iPad” so there you have it, the 7″ kindle fire has the same screen as an iPad truly amazing. Then I did a quick search to see just how many fake iPads there are I found no less than 30 yes 30 different companies manufacturing over 60 different devices, they include :- Coby Kyros, Hp touchpad,Samsung Galaxy, Le Pen, ePad, Pan Digital, Eisse,Blackberry playbook, Asus transformer, motorola Xoom, Kindle fire, Sony SGPT111, Lenova, Acer Iconia, AVS, Vizio, Dell Streak, Ainoi NOV07 Paladin, HTC Evo view,Creative Ziio, Velocity Micro Cruz, Zeepad, V7, superpad3, viewsonic gTablet,Pandigital Novel, Skytex,Archos, NABI FUHUNABI, Sylvania SYNET,but my personal favourite is the cute little “Toshiba Thrive” so ironic, you couldn’t make it up.

    1. BTW, I don’t have a Kindle Fire, but from your quoted text, if it’s accurate, they’re saying that the VIEWING ANGLE is the same as an iPad, not that the screen is the same.

  6. “We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point.”

    The 10″ Kindle Fire will present the first true threat.

  7. “iPad market; unaffected.”

    That is the only take required.

    I saw my first Kindle Fire yesterday. Owner was so proud of it, she had it wrapped up in a cloth to protect it. She was a church member, so I kept my mouth shut; didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

    1. … kept in a soft cloth bag when not in use. Most of the time. It keeps the screen free of scratches and camouflages the content – if not outright hides it – so we are less likely to lose it, or its usefulness, any time soon.
      My first wife’s second husband is much less careful of his Kindle – a gift from his wife. ;->

  8. Amazon’s sales fell from 17% to 4%

    and the ANAYST SOLUTION to non apple tablet crisis is COPY Amazon:

    “It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points,” Mainelli added. “


    (for the last few years pro Android ‘analysts’ seem to live in dreamworld making the most illogical conclusions from the numbers. ‘they are not making profits so sell CHEAPER… Amazon strategy is failing so COPY IT.. ‘ ? )

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