IDC: Worldwide tablet market grew 11.5% in the third quarter

The worldwide tablet grew 11.5% year over year in the third quarter of 2014 (3Q14) with shipments reaching 53.8 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Marked by back-to-school promotions and US appetite for connected tablets, the third quarter also saw shipments grow sequentially by 11.2% compared to 2Q14.

“Not only is the US market one of the largest for tablets, but third quarter results also indicate that this is where the growth is,” said Jean Philippe Bouchard, IDC Research Director for Tablets. “We saw Verizon continuing to sell connected tablets at a fast pace, a strategy that we believe other carriers will replicate in following quarters. We also saw RCA enter the top 5, impacting the entire US market and worldwide ranking with one large deal linked to back-to-school and channel fill ahead of Black Friday. Those two elements resulted in the US tablet market growing at 18.5% year-over-year compared to the worldwide market growing at 11.5% annually.”

Apple maintained its lead in the worldwide tablet market, shipping 12.3 million units in the third quarter. Samsung held its number two position on the market with 9.9 million units shipped, capturing an 18.3% market share in the third quarter. Asus regained its number three position with 3.5 million units and 6.5% share of the market. Lenovo fell back to the number 4 position with 3 million units. It is worth noting that Asus and Lenovo traded the positions they held in 2Q14. The top 5 was rounded out by RCA, which achieved its position by shipping 2.6 million units primarily in one country, the US. Market share for the vendors outside the top 5 continued to outgrow the market, representing 41.8% of total tablet shipments in 3Q14.

“Although the low-cost vendors are moving a lot of volume, the top vendors, like Apple, continue to rake in the dollars,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, in a statement. “A sub-$100 tablet simply isn’t sustainable — Apple knows this — and it’s likely the reason they aren’t concerned with market share erosion.”

Tablet Vendor Highlights

Apple, during its earnings call, noted that the iPad’s lifecycle is extending. Combined with consumer anticipation and the release of the latest iPhones, IDC saw a decline in overall iPad shipment volume in 3Q14.

Samsung has slowly begun to focus on markets like North America and Middle East and Africa (MEA), where low-cost Asian vendors haven’t been able to gain a foothold just yet. Although Samsung’s share declined slightly compared to last year, it was able to experience 5.6% growth and was able to maintain its number 2 rank among the top 5.

ASUS was able to leapfrog Lenovo to land itself in the number 3 spot. Much of this gain was fueled by Windows-based 2-in-1 devices as ASUS continues to offer some prominent models at highly competitive prices.

Lenovo‘s strength in emerging markets has been paying off as they experienced greater than 30% growth and have been able to increase their share by almost a percentage point. Lenovo has also had the benefit of leveraging its brand and strength in the PC business to secure a strong position in the tablet market.

RCA was a surprise entry into the top 5 list due to its distribution deal with some of the largest retailers in the world. With low-cost devices driving volume, RCA’s tablets have been a hit during the back-to-school season and will likely be in high demand during Black Friday and the upcoming holiday season.

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Third Quarter 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)
IDC: Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Third Quarter 2014 (Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)

• Data is preliminary and subject to change.
• References to “tablets” in this release include both slate tablets and 2-in-1 devices.
• Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors. The vendor names reflected in this release represent the current parent company (or holding company) for all brands, regardless of the date of mergers or acquisitions.

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, October 30, 2014


  1. Shipments do not equal sales. (And I say this as an Android guy.) You see TONS of Android tablets – at all price points – on Groupon, Ebay, outlets and other places where retailers try to dump inventory. You even see wicked old Samsung tablets – devices running Android 3! – on Amazon. Google doesn’t even prioritize tablets much anymore. They put out the Nexus 9 just to have a 64 bit device for Lollipop. They put a ton more effort into the Nexus 6 phone.

    It is a shame; there are some compelling mid-range tablets out there like the Asus Memo Pad 8, which has 1 GB of RAM and a 64 bit Intel Bay Trail CPU, and runs about $200. Its benchmarks are quite good for a tablet in that price range, yet it doesn’t sell. A shame. I would get it myself, but I am waiting to choose from among the 12 inch Bay Trail tablets that HP, Sony and Lenovo will have on the market next year (I do not need to pay $500 for a 12 inch Samsung Galaxy Pro because I am not a “power user” plus I want stock Android on a 64 bit CPU, not TouchWiz on a 32 bit one).

    1. Besides the price (your list of specs comes down to tradeoffs you get from lowering the price), what keeps you on Android, or is price the only factor? (real question, not trying to start a war)

  2. Whenever I see these numbers I always ask where all these Samsung tablets actually are? In London we have a well integrated public transport system. You see people using their gadgets on it all the time. Daily I see iPads (both sizes), lots of Kindles, phones from multiple companies, but I think I’ve only seen one Samsung tablet all year. I’ve even seen more Microsoft Surface things than Samsung tablets, and the UK is supposedly a big customer for Samsung kit.

    So where are these Samsung tablets? 9.9 million is an enormous number of extra sales. Surely I should be seeing a lot of them around, no?

      1. I’m normally good at spotting them straight away if one comes up on the TV (normally being obviously product placed). The screens are slightly longer on the Samsungs. I wonder whether people who buy the Samsungs are only using them around the house, like people used to do with those stupidly heavy Dell laptops that were popular for a while.

  3. Once again, it needs to be said that any article which is supported by IDC data is not worth the time taken to read it, and should be marginalized, pushed aside, and completely ignored.

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