IDC: Apple dominates worldwide tablet market with 43.6% unit share

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.

[protected-iframe id=”843534121979dfef93158e31b59bacf3-17146794-18685410″ info=”” width=”460″ height=”474″ frameborder=”0″]

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 Further detail about this tracker can be found at: 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.

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


  1. As always, the data is not reliable since they waited for Apple to report their numbers because they were afraid to screw up with their “calculations”. In all honesty, they have no idea about actual tablet sales.

  2. Again baloney. Statistics pulled from the choc hway. This is bordering on criminal.

    Only apple presents specific unit numbers. No one else does, so how do these cretins come up with this garbage?

  3. Really, they are using e-readers to crowd out the iPad numbers. Did Apple get to count in the iPod touch in their numbers? Now that Apple has the iPad mini going, half or more of those e-readers will fall off as Apple RoadKill this quarter!

    1. @Jersey_Trader —
      I think you’re right to focus on e-readers. 

      Notice that e-readers from Amazon and Barnes & Noble lost significant market share over the past year inasmuch as the demand from readers had already been largely fulfilled.  Their combined unit sales grew by only 18.3% over the past year.  Meanwhile, the demand for tablets is based on many different uses that are still being discovered, and in countries/languages where few books are available for download.

      For example, the 128GB iPad will make it more appealing as a media player (and babysitter) as well as attracting ‘power users’ from industry.  There is no way that an e-reader is competing for these new user cohorts …

    2. Where did they say they’re counting ereaders? 6 million is exactly what analysts were predicting for Kindle Fire sales last quarter, not including other Kindles. I know this is all very speculative on IDC’s side, but there’s nothing to suggest they’re counting ereaders.

      What they’re saying, in essence, is that Android tablets overtook the iPad last quarter. I’m in a state of disbelief right now, then again, I had the same reaction 3 years ago with Android phones.

  4. Funny, none of the web usage surveys suggest non-iPad has anything even remotely close to 30%, let alone 56%.

    So most Android tablet users just pay for a $500 e-Reader ?

  5. As Philip ElmerDewitt pointed out in a a column today, Amazon and Samsung don’t release sales figures. So anything IDC has come up with portraying those numbers is purely speculation and invalid for the purpose of their report. Apple owns the market.

    1. Even though those methods can not present true picture due to various use scenarios for different tablets, those are more reliable than such purely made up reports as this one from IDC:

      1) net traffic;
      2) quantity of applications downloads, as well as monetary volume of application stores — if possible, differentiated by the type of device (smartphone/tablet).

  6. people here might not believe this numbers, but go to Asia like
    Hong Kong or Singapore, even though Apple sells a lot of iPads (mini or full size) you can also see a lot of people using android tablets since middle of last year. like the iPhone, it’s also losing
    momentum. and it’s a Fact. Apple executives should wake up and not be arrogant regarding new iPhone screen size and prices . if they can come out with the lower cost iPhone next month, they should do it ASAP or loose momentum.

    1. Market share is not important to Apple. If you were to look at the market share that BMW has in Singapore or Hong Kong, you would find that it is small but they still make great cars and those who have the money will buy them. Apple won’t go broke by selling quality devices and software. Those other companies who are trying to race to the bottom will struggle to survive.

      As long as those who want quality can get it, Apple will be successful. Those people who are willing to settle for the lower quality knockoffs will get what they deserve too.

      1. In addition to the current high-end models, Apple needs iPhone and iPad models that are less expensive AND have reasonably high profit margins. 

        Tim Cook implied that is what the company is working on in the Q&A portion of the earnings report on Jan. 23.  Market share is not a goal, he said, UNLESS it can be captured with quality products.  Discussing plans for the iPhone, he referred to the strategy followed with iPod: several models with differing feature sets and price points.  The iPad mini illustrates the same approach in the iPad line.

      2. Ok, but did you notice how Apple’s profit margin fell last quarter, and how the iPad ASP plunged by $100? It’s because the iPad mini is a low-margin product for their standards, and why is that? Why is the iPad mini not $379 or $399? Because Apple is trying to defend market share. Or better yet, because they want to grow this computer platform, make it bigger than Windows. They put growth over profits here.

        By the way, BMW, like all German premium car makers, has been on an explicit market share growth strategy for the last 2 decades. That’s why they introduced their 1 Series, bought Rover and relaunched the Mini in the 90s and launched their X lines in the 00s.

  7. “Apple executives should wake up and not be arrogant regarding new iPhone screen size and prices . if they can come out with the lower cost iPhone next month, they should do it ASAP or loose momentum.”

    Cheaper Apple products? Sure, and why not Apple BOGO deals, and put iPhones in cereal boxes?
    Jer, your momentum isn’t the only thing that’s loose.

  8. I travel a great deal and saw a trend in the increasing popularity of Android based small tablets. That has been nearly reversed by the introduction of the mini. I can’t believe the rate of growth in its use. As supply catches up with demand, that will only increase.

    1. I read the story on Apple Insider and Mac Rumors. Only here is the headline altered. The part about Apple losing marketshare is eliminated here. Same goes for the story. Anything negative about Apple is removed. That’s a bit dishonest. Apple still holds a commanding lead in the market. But it’s inevitable that others will chip away overtime. That’s obvious. Most readers, excluding fanboys, appreciate the whole story. We’re generally smart enough to understand the truth.

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