Think tablets are popular? Shipments explode in first quarter

Apple is biggest provider; Androids tablets make up 56 per centof market

Tablet shipments exploded by 142 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 year-over-year as all Android tablets, including low-budget white box versions, dominated the market over Apple iOS tablets, IDC said.

Apple outpaced IDC's original forecast for the first quarter, shipping 19.5 million iPads and iPad minis, up from a prior forecast of 18.7 million.

But Apple couldn't outpace all the Android makers combined, which shipped 27.8 million units, up 247 per cent over the 8 million shipped in first quarter of 2012. All tablet vendors for all OS' shipped 49 million tablets in the first quarter of 2013.

In the first quarter, Android grabbed a 56.5 per cent market share, compared to a 39.6 per cent share for iOS.

The Android share includes white box Android tablets. IDC analyst Ryan Reith said via email that Android shipments outdistanced iOS beginning in the third quarter of 2012.

Prior to the last half of 2012, Apple had easily dominated the market since launching the first iPad and the modern tablet industry in 2010.

For the first quarter of 2013, Apple was still the single largest vendor of tablets, but Samsung finished second with 8.8 million shipped, an increase of 280 per cent over the 2.3 million shipped a year earlier.

Asus hit the third position by shipping 2.7 million tablets, up from 600,000 a year earlier - a 350 per cent increase. Asus makes Google's Nexus 7 tablet, which has been highly marketed, IDC noted.

Amazon.com finished fourth with 1.8 million tablets shipped, or 3.7 per cent of the total.

Microsoft tablets entered the top five for the first time, with shipments of nearly 900,000 Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets. The latter began shipping in February in the USand Canada over a period of less than a full quarter.

When all Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets from other vendors are included, Microsoft tablets totaled 1.8 million tablets shipped, or 3.7 per cent of the market.

IDC's finding for Microsoft's tablet shipments in the first quarter is two-thirds of the 3 million that Strategy Analytics said were shipped of both Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets for the quarter.

Strategy Analytics gave Microsoft 7% of the market and called it just a "niche" while IDC put the share at just 3.7%, an even smaller niche.

Strategy Analytics tallied 40.6 million tablets shipped in the first quarter, compared to 49 million tallied by IDC, though the former did not include the low-budget Android white box tablets.

Strategy Analytics reported the same number as IDC of Apple tablets shipped in the first quarter -- 19.5 million, but didn't break out individual Android makers like Samsung.

Reith said that rumors of a smaller screen for the Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets might not help Microsoft as much as better marketing and lower prices.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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