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iPad Floats Tablet Market; Kindle Fire Hosed, IDC SaysBy Adam Dickter
Posted: May 3, 2012 2:01pm PDT
The global tablet computer market was "robust" in the first quarter, but fell shy of projections as shipments of Android-based devices and Amazon's Kindle slowed, according to new data from market research firm IDC.
The Framingham, Mass.-based firm had predicted that tablets would fall by 34 percent after the busy holiday season, but its Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker instead found a steeper 38.4 percent slump, or 1.2 million fewer units.
iPad Still Rules
Overall, worldwide shipments of tablets reached 17.4 million units in the quarter, a growth of 120 percent, up from 7.9 million units in the first quarter of 2011, the report said.
But 11.8 million of those units were Apple's iPads, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011. The Cupertino powerhouse's worldwide share of the market grew from 54.7 percent to 68 percent sequentially.
"Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC, in a statement.
He said the company was reaping benefits from its decision to keep making the iPad 2 after introducing its successor in March. Excitement over the new iPad version also figures into the results, as it was introduced near the end of the quarter.
Amazon.com, on the other hand, saw declining post-holiday interest in its Kindle Fire devices, dropping from 16.8 percent of the market at the end of 2011 with 4.8 million shipments to "just over 4 percent" and third place in the market behind Samsung, maker of the Galaxy Tab, IDC said. Filling in the No. 4 and 5 spots were Lenovo and Barnes & Noble, respectively.
IDC Vice President Bob O'Donnell told us in an interview Thursday that the Kindle saw a strong boost in sales during the holiday season because of high shopping traffic on its site, and its $199 price tag made it "a very well-priced impulse buy." In the first quarter, however, shipments slowed because of high inventory already in the market.
O'Donnell said the company was still analyzing numbers for Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook but expected figures for the quarter to total about 500,000, leaving it behind Barnes & Noble in market share.
Waiting for Windows 8
Devices powered by Microsoft's Windows 7 were not a substantial share of the market in the quarter, he added, and the platform will probably not gain significantly until next year, as devices ship with the updated Windows 8.
"The concern is that Windows devices tend to be relatively expensive, probably more than the iPad, and we know the history of devices that are more than the iPad is very poor," O'Donnell told us.
On the plus side for Microsoft, though, is that people tend to view Windows tablets more as a computer, "and people are willing to pay more for a PC than a tablet."
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