Apple reclaims tablet supremacy with 70 per cent share in Q2

Second-place Samsung sold one-seventh as many tablets, says iSuppli

Apple dominated the global tablet market last quarter on the back of record sales, according to a research firm, and reclaimed a massive lead over rivals.

The Cupertino, California, company's share of all tablet sales jumped 44 per cent in the second quarter over the previous three-month stretch, said IHS iSuppli. Apple's iPad accounted for 70 per cent of the 24.4 million tablets sold in the period ending June 30. In the first quarter, the iPad owned a 58per cent share of the market.

Apple's 70 per cent share was its best showing in iSuppli's tracking since the first quarter of 2011.

Apple posted record iPad sales in the second quarter, with the 17 million sold, representing an 84 per cent increase over the same quarter of 2011.

"Apple is making all the right moves to rebuild its dominant position in the tablet space," said Rhoda Alexander, iSuppli's director of tablet and monitor research, in an emailed statement. "With the expected entrance of the 7-inch version of the iPad in September, Apple is sending a clear message that it plans to dominate this market over the long term."

All told, Apple has sold about 85 million iPads since the tablet's April 2010 introduction.

In iSuppli's accounting, Korean company Samsung was a distant second for the quarter, selling 2.3 million tablets of all types, less than one-seventh as many as Apple, to collect a 9.2 per cent share.

Amazon, Asus and Barnes & Noble rounded out the top 5 sellers, although their combined sales didn't equal Samsung's. Amazon's sales fell 13 per cent quarter-over-quarter, while those by Barnes & Noble, the bookseller that struck a $605 million deal with Microsoft last April over the former's Nook business, plunged 25 per cent.

Apple faces competition from new players -- Google and its $US199 Nexus 7, Microsoft and its not-yet-priced Surface tablets -- noted Alexander. But she saw no hint that the market leader was backing off what she called its "aggressive strategy."

That strategy will be put to the test next month if, as most analysts expect, Apple unveils a smaller tablet. Dubbed the "iPad Mini" by most, the device will reportedly boast a 7.85-in. screen and cost $2US49 to $US299, or $US100 to $US150 less than the now-discounted iPad 2 from 2011.

It's going to be tough to push Apple out of the top spot, even if it doesn't scale down the iPad.

"iSuppli's ... research shows that satisfied users are likely to go back to the same brand for their next purchase," said Alexander of the tablet market. "In all likelihood, Apple already has developed a solid future customer base, which will continue to strengthen, barring a major stumble on an upcoming product release."

iSuppli's sales and market share estimates were in line with those from rival research firm IDC two weeks ago. Because IDC pegged worldwide tablet sales at a half million higher than iSuppli, its guess on Apple's share was slightly lower. IDC estimated Samsung's sales at a higher number of 2.4 million, giving it a larger share of 9.6 per cent.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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