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Summary:

IDC reports that the iPad’s share of the tablet market fell from 93 percent to 73 percent last quarter. That doesn’t mean that much, since Apple had no competition when it started out. More interesting is how Apple’s post-PC products are doing in general.

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IDC reports that the iPad’s share of the tablet market fell from 93 percent to 73 percent on shipments of 10.1 million devices last quarter. For all of 2010, 18 million “media tablets” were shipped, with Apple accounting for 83 percent of that total. While a drop of 20 percentage points in market share might seem dramatic, it’s not; up until the third quater of last year, Apple had the market almost exclusively to itself, which is why market share numbers of nearly 100 percent reported at the time were largely meaningless.

Now, with genuine competitors entering the market, we’ll find out just how popular the iPad really is, and it doesn’t look like Apple has much to worry about. According to the IDC, the Samsung Galaxy Tab took 17 percent of the market in the last quarter, but there continues to be some debate about what that means. Going back to a conference call in January, Samsung executives stumbled on actual sell-through of the Tab to consumers, versus Tabs shipped to resellers. At the recent iPad event, Steve Jobs repeated the apparent misquote from Samsung suggesting consumer sales were quite “quite small.” The quote was actually, “quite smooth,” and yet Samsung has since been silent on both Tab sales and Jobs’ misquote.

Perhaps that’s why IDC expects Apple to maintain between 70 and 80 percent of the 50 million tablet shipments expected for 2011. However, that anticipated share may even be a little low, as IDC asserts it won’t be until the second half of the year that iPad competitors “hit the market in earnest,” leaving Apple with plenty of time to hook tablet buyers early on.  As current competitors like the Tab and Xoom continue to struggle with mixed reviews, uncompetitive pricing, and now iPad 2, it’s an open question as to whether more competition along those lines will matter. If the iPad maintains market share at around 75 percent, it will mirror the iPod’s success in the media player market. But that’s only part of the story of Apple’s ongoing success.

During the last quarter, 92.1 million PCs were sold. Taking totals for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, Apple sold approximately 33 million post-PC devices during the same period. If it seems incongruous to compare Apple post-PC sales with PC sales, rather than other post-PC devices from companies like Samsung or Motorola, that’s exactly the point: No other single company compares to Apple when it comes to being ready for the transition from traditional computers to a range of handheld devices, “where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC,” as Jobs said.

PC sales are expected to be around 350 million in 2011. Apple will sell over 100 million post-PC devices. Apple isn’t just winning tablets; it’s winning computing in general.

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  1. Huh? Didn’t Samsung retract their sales figures stating that those were shipments to retailers not sales to endusers and that actual sales to endusers were “slow”. Perhaps you have new information but it was several weeks ago that the Samsung numbers were changed.

    1. Samsung announced 600,000 Tabs sold shortly after launch last fall, followed by one million in early December, and two million in early January. At the conference call when pressed on whether those numbers were actual sales to consumers, the response was:

      “Well, your question was on sell-in and sell-out. As you heard, our sell-in was quite aggressive and this first quarterly result was quite, you know, fourth-quarter unit [figure] was around two million. Then, in terms of sell-out, we also believe it was quite smooth. We believe, as the introduction of new device, it was required to have consumers invest in the device. So therefore, even though sell-out wasn’t as fast as we expected, we still believe sell-out was quite OK.”

      Sell-in refers to sales to resellers, and sell-out to consumers. Since the admission that actual sales to consumers were not “as fast as we expected,” Samsung has stopped bragging the Tab, and has been silent on Steve Jobs trash talking at the iPad 2 event. I question whether the Tab actually has the market share its purported to have even now.

  2. Laughing_Boy48 Thursday, March 10, 2011

    We’ll see how much good it will be for Android tablet vendors to stuff channels and have their products end up sitting on store shelves. It will be good for the Android fanbois because they’ll get their wish of extremely cheap Android tablets as the retailers mark down those high-end products just to get rid of them. I’m counting on smart consumers to just flat-out ignore any Android tablets and merely treat them as curiosities. I’m looking for some key celebrities to push the iPad 2. Hopefully, Oprah Winfrey will again lure millions of consumers to buy the iPad 2 in a subtle fashion as she gushes love and affection over it.

  3. Already this quarter, I have seen my niece buy a iPhone 4 and 2 sets of mates parents purchase iPads (for traveling around in their campervans as they tour New Zealand).

    My mum has her name down for an iPad 2.

    All of these individuals have never owned an Apple product before.

    We live in New Zealand.

    I believe Apple is close to a tipping point.

  4. Measuring shipped is meaningless.

  5. Errrr ….
    You might want to recalc the PC wedge at 92%

    1. it’s not 92%, it’s 92 million sold

  6. It seems to me that the diagram is misleading as it shows products from Apple, but then all other products from all other companies grouped together. In fairness I would expect it to be broken out to give consumers a real view of market share as per device. Otherwise it is comparing unjustly in MY opinion.

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