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iPad is top selling tablet, but Android now most common tablet OS, says IDC

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More tablets were shipped during January and March this year than the entire first half of 2012: 49.2 million units during the three-month period, according to IDC. The analyst firm’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker was published Wednesday and it shows that tablets continue grow at a rapid clip. Every major tablet maker saw large gains in shipments during the first quarter — and one of the notable results of that is that Apple’s(s AAPL) overall share of the tablet market is decreasing.

Apple is still the world’s largest tablet seller; it shipped 19.5 million in the last quarter, up from 11.8 million the same quarter a year ago, according to IDC and its own numbers released earlier this month. That’s an increase of 64 percent. Its No. 1 mobile competitor, Samsung, saw its shipments grow even faster, from 2.3 million tablets a year ago to 8.8 million in the latest quarter. Rounding out the Top 5, Asus and Amazon(s AMZN) also more than doubled their tablet shipments from a year ago. Microsoft,(s MSFT) which did not start selling tablets until October 2012, shipped 900,000 Surface units between January and March.

The overall growth in tablets means Android is now the most popular mobile OS in tablets shipped during the quarter; a year ago it was on 8 million of tablets shipped worldwide, compared to the 11.8 million iPads. This past quarter saw Android shipped on 27.8 million tablets that were shipped and 19.5 million iPads and iPad minis.

All this does not mean doom and gloom for the iPad. Apple’s tablet sales continue at a rapid clip, increasing every quarter — faster than the iPhone right now. And while its overall share of tablet shipments may be slipping, it’s still selling more than double the number of tablets each quarter as its closest competitor, Samsung (see chart below).

IDC tablet tracker q1 2013

19 Responses to “iPad is top selling tablet, but Android now most common tablet OS, says IDC”

  1. Kristofer Layon

    This article is just fine, though as Erica notes, usage is another matter. Other articles have shed light on the saddest side of the Android tale: hardly anyone uses Android devices to browse the web or use apps. Furthermore, many Android customers get fed up with Android and eventually upgrade to iOS devices (20%!):

  2. Robert Lyon

    As soon as I saw Apple ditch it’s iPad 3 with Retina when the iPad 4 was released, in favor of selling the iPad 2 as it’s cheaper model at $399, it got me to consider Android. I can’t rely on a company that consistently puts its shareholders over its consumers. My Nexus 10 tablet at $399 was such a better buy than the same priced iPad 2.

  3. It’s about time that superior devices start to show a real market presence and leave CrApple in the dust. It’s amazing how many people still cling to their rubbish OS…..

  4. Guys, relax! You cannot keep stuffing the channel quarter after quarter. At some point, the channel gets filled and shipments equal to the number of devices sold. It is ridiculous how much Apple Fanboys love to criticize companies like Samsung.

  5. Yesterday I read an article where the CEO of Blackberry claim the tablet space is a fad and will dissapear in 5 years. Quarterly improvement of 142%, no matter who sold what and who is the market leader. Maybe he should rethink his statement and make more of an effort to keep blackberry viable. I’m not a blackberry fan at all, love my Note2 and Tab10.1, but I want more players in the market so that we benefit more from their competion.

  6. Does it matter if Erica is even 10% or 20% off here? The pattern is clear – Android will assume dominance in tablets as it has in phones.

    It doesn’t mean Apple is in trouble (though there will be much more pressure on their margins), and it doesn’t mean that Android products are better than iPads. It doesn’t even mean your manhood has shrunk for owning Apple products, so please stop acting like it.

    • nicequal

      Yeah, but dominance in what? Greatest number of apps? Best apps? Best experience? And the important ones: “stickiness” (building something that lasts and customers will care for and return to) and profit share?

      Isn’t it reasonable to expect that Android phone and tablet makers’ near lack of profit (outside of Samsung) is based on either desperation (“losing”) or hope of “winning” in the end (apparently not the same as dominance), so they can make profit? What if “winning” never happens for them?

  7. Noku Rukakikika

    Really, Erica, we thought you had more integrity than to publish such link bait.

    Shipped is a guestimate, as everyone else declares and you already know. But I’d also like to ponder how many of these Android tablets are sitting in someone’s junk drawer.

    • Erica Ogg

      It’s not an “integrity” issue and it’s not “linkbait.” I’m reporting the findings of IDC, which we do every quarter, for various industries. IDC’s calculations may not be perfect, but they are one way of understanding the overall trends in a really important market right now: tablets. How these tablets are being used once purchased is a different story, which we’ve covered, and will continue to. But in general, please feel free to disagree with what I write without making attacks on my character.

    • Simon

      Really hard to know how many Android tablets or iPads are ‘sitting in someone’s junk drawer’ and your comment smacks of Apple fandom and clutching at straws…

      Personally I have one of each and find the pros / cons mostly balance each other out

  8. Paul Stuart

    Look at the quarterly reports for a more accurate number for “sales”. That might prove more depth for this article and for those who don’t care about how some companies release their info. Next quarterly results will be in July, but the Yearly reports will be Quite interesting!

  9. Raj Seshadri

    Stop comparing MARKET SHARE based on shipments – it’s completely inaccurate and doesn’t actually tell us how much SOLD.

    Clearly IDC and others are partaking of Scamsung’s $12B+ marketing budget.

  10. Once again IDC puts Apple’s SALES numbers against others ESTIMATED SHIPPED numbers. Or as Samsung now calls them “channel sales” AKA “stuffing the channel” and once again the press eats it up with little to no questions asked.

    You gotta ask yourself why won’t Samsung release actual sales numbers…but then again I guess why would they with reporting like this!

    Carry on!

    • Richard Fieldhouse

      One of a number of interestingly biased comments. While in the early days of Samsung’s first tablet this activity of stuffing the channel might well have been distorting the market share figures, that was with their sales at 2.3 million units for Q1 2012.

      The channel might have been stuffed with half a million units – at a pinch. But more than that is unlikely – imagine having one’s channel stuffed with a million units – I don’t think so! And yet this year, Samsung’s sales figure is 8.8 million. The growth that is reported here must be largely real, and hence the comments in the article largely valid.

    • Simon

      The point you are missing is that Android tablets are outselling iPads. People are looking at both and (for whatever reasons) choosing Android over Apple
      No need to be ‘impressed or afraid’ – it’s just the way things are.