Android Growth Drives Another Strong Quarter for the Worldwide Tablet Market

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Worldwide tablet shipments grew to 47.6 million units in the third quarter of 2013 (3Q13) according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

While slightly below the firm's forecast, the number still represents 7.0% growth over the previous quarter and 36.7% growth compared to the third quarter of 2012. Android products once again drove much of the shipment growth in the market as iOS growth stalled and Windows tablets continued to struggle to win over consumers.

With no new iPad product launches in the second or third quarter to drive volume, Apple experienced a quarter-over-quarter decline in shipments from 14.6 million in 2Q13 to 14.1 million in 3Q13. Year over year, iPad shipments grew less than one percent. Apple's slowing growth-caused in part by its decision in late 2012 to move its product launches from earlier in the year to the fourth quarter-has caused the company's tablet market share to slip to 29.6%, its lowest share to date. However, with the new iPad Air shipping November 1st and the refreshed iPad mini with Retina scheduled to roll out later in November, IDC expects Apple to enjoy robust shipment growth during the fourth quarter.

"With two 7.9-inch models starting at $299 and $399, and two 9.7-inch models starting at $399 and $499, Apple is taking steps to appeal to multiple segments," said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst with IDC's Tablet Tracker. "While some undoubtedly hoped for more aggressive pricing from Apple, the current prices clearly reflect Apple's ongoing strategy to maintain its premium status. It's worth noting that Apple wasn't the only one to increase the price of its small-sized tablet during this product cycle: Both Google and Amazon increased the price of their newest 7-inch tablets from $199 to $229 to cover the higher costs associated with high resolution screens and better processors."

Samsung once again secured the second position with shipments of about 9.7 million units. The company, which owes a measure of its tablet success to its ability to bundle them with other successful Samsung products, such as smartphones and televisions, grabbed 20.4% of the worldwide market. ASUS, which makes the Nexus 7 for Google, shipped about 3.5 million total units during the quarter for a third place finish and 7.4% market share. PC powerhouse Lenovo moved into the number four tablet spot with shipments of 2.3 million units and a 4.8% share. Finally, Acer rounded out the top five with 1.2 million units shipped and a 2.5% share. Notably, vendors from outside the top five were responsible for over one third of the shipments in 3Q13. IDC tracks dozens of tablet vendors, and this quarter "Others" represents a combination of major vendors (such as Amazon, Microsoft, HP, and Dell) and lesser-known, so-called white box vendors that typically sell ultra-low cost Android devices at often unsustainably low margins.

"White box tablet shipments continue to constitute a fairly large percentage of the Android devices shipped into the market," said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. "These low cost Android-based products make tablets available to a wider market of consumers, which is good. However, many use cheap parts and non Google-approved versions of Android that can result in an unsatisfactory customer experience, limited usage, and very little engagement with the ecosystem. Android's growth in tablets has been stunning to watch, but shipments alone won't guarantee long-term success. For that you need a sustainable hardware business model, a healthy ecosystem for developers, and happy end users."

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, and Market Share

(Shipments in millions)

Vendor Q3 2013 Q3 2012 Year-over-Year Growth
Unit Shipments Market Share Unit Shipments Market Share
Apple 14.1 29.6% 14.0 40.2% 0.6%
Samsung 9.7 20.4% 4.3 12.4% 123.0%
Asus 3.5 7.4% 2.3 6.6% 53.9%
Lenovo 2.3 4.8% 0.4 1.1% 420.7%
Acer 1.2 2.5% 0.3 0.9% 346.3%
Others 16.8 35.3% 13.5 38.8% 25.0%
Total 47.6 100.0% 34.8 100.0% 36.7%

Source: IDC Worldwide Tablet Tracker, October 30, 2013.

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