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Samsung takes a nibble out of Apple's tablet lead

Ted Samson | Feb. 1, 2013
Tablet shipments soared to record highs in Q4, though Microsoft couldn't outsell Barnes and Noble

Some 52.5 million tablets shipped during the final quarter of 2012, and 22.9 million bore the Apple logo, according to the latest IDC data. However, rival Samsung managed to put a small dent in Apple's overall market share lead by shipping 7.9 million tablets, a year-over-year increase of 263 percent. Conspicuous by its absence among the top five tablet makers is Microsoft, which, according to IDC, shipped just 900,000 Surface tablets during the final quarter of 2012.

"Devices based upon [Microsoft's] 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 for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. That figure could overstate sales, as Microsoft reports how many units it ships to stores, not how many units customers buy. (Apple reports sales to customers, but most other providers -- including Samsung -- report sales to stores.)

Overall, the 52.5 million tablet shipments represented a new quarterly record, spurred by lower-priced tablets, a wealth of new product options, and a surge in holiday spending. Shipments for Q4 in 2011 had totaled 29.9 million. "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," said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC.


Samsung takes a nibble out of Apple's tablet lead

Apple shipped the most tablets for the quarter at 22.9 million, representing growth of 48.1 percent for the quarter. IDC attributed the company's success to a strong iPad Mini launch, along with the availability of the fourth-generation full-sized iPad. However, the company's overall year-over-year market share dropped from 51.7 percent to 43.6 percent due to increased competition.

Samsung shipped the second-most tablets for the holiday season, 7.9 million in all. That's up from 2.2 million from Q4 of last year, an impressive 263 percent increase. The company's market share for the quarter was 15.1 percent, up from 7.3 percent last year.


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