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According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, the worldwide tablet market grew nearly 7% over the second quarter of 2012. Android sales skyrocketed, while Apple lost share. Although Apple's slowdown was partly due to consumers waiting for the company's late October launch of the iPad mini, the generous growth by Android's Samsung tablet devices indicates that iPad alternatives should not be discounted.
The lower price points of Android devices might be a reason for the climb. According to IDC's worldwide data, Samsung shipped 5.1 million tablets in the third quarter of 2012—up a hefty 115% from the previous quarter, and 325% from Q3 2011. Samsung soared while Apple slowed. Apple slipped from holding nearly 66% of tablet market share in the second quarter to 50.4% in Q3.
Although Apple is expected to have a successful holiday season with the iPad mini, lower-price tablets like those from Samsung and Amazon are also expected to fare well as gifts. Further shaking up the market, Microsoft is releasing Windows 8 and Windows RT devices; however, industry observers have expressed skepticism over whether holiday shoppers will go for the $500 price tags.
According to IDC, the third quarter of this year was the first time a competitor gained such a large share since the original launch of the iPad. Samsung comprised 18.4% of the worldwide tablet market at the end of the third quarter.
When looking at iOS, though, September IDC tablet tracker data showed that Android share may lessen in years to come. IDC forecast iOS devices to make up 61% of tablet shipments in 2013. Android will make up about 33%, with Windows squeaking by with 6%.
A Pew Research Center US tablet survey demonstrates the changes in the tablet market—at least in this country—since Android began putting more devices on the market. In July 2011, 81% of tablet owners had iPads, while 15% owned Android tablets. By August 2012, the percentage of iOS tablet owners dwindled down to 52%, as Android gathered steam and gained 48% share among tablet owners.
It will be interesting to see what impact the iPad mini and the iPad 4 have on the tablet marketplace during the holiday shopping season. Since the iPad mini and the iPad 4 failed to attract the same number of consumers on the launch dates as previous iPad launches did, perhaps consumers are waiting for the holidays to make their iPad purchases. Or, perhaps, consumers are warming up to Apple alternatives from manufacturers like Samsung, Amazon and Microsoft.
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