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Samsung is catching up to Apple in the tablet arena

Apple's iPad is still leading the pack when it comes to tablet market share, but this is slowly changing as Samsung plays catch-up.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), a total of 52.5 million tablets were shipped in Q4 2012. Of this, 22.9 million were Apple's iPad, which represented a 48.1 percent growth from Q4 2011.

However, Apple's iPad market share has been slipping slightly on a quarterly basis. It went from 46.4 percent in Q3 2012 to 43.6 percent in Q4 2012.

Part of the reason for the slip is Samsung's ability to gain some ground with its Android and Windows 8-powered tablets. Samsung represented the No. 2 spot with a 263 percent year-on-year growth. For Q4 2012, it shipped 8 million tablets and snagged 15.1 percent of the market share.

Earlier this month, it was reported that the iPad's market share in Japan was bested by the Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet.

The top five tablet vendors (from No. 1 to No. 5) include Apple, Samsung, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a collected group of "others."

Microsoft is now in on the tablet race too, with its first entry -- Microsoft Surface. In November 2012, it released Surface with Windows RT for ARM-based tablets. On February 9, it will release Surface with Windows 8 Pro.

While Microsoft's Surface with Windows RT was released in the fourth quarter, it was just shy of the top five list with IDC's calculated number of 900,000 shipments.

According to market research firm iSuppli, Microsoft Surface RT shipments into the channel for the fourth quarter were about 1.25 million, but sales out of the channel were only about 55-60 percent of that. This equals about 680,000-750,000 unit shipments, which is well below the 1 million mark.

The Surface with Windows RT has a lot stacked against it, such as a high return rate (iSuppli said that's mainly due to the steep learning curve of Windows 8), the fact that device makers aren't particularly interested in the OS and Microsoft failed to sell the device outside of its own kiosks (there are only a little over 60 of them in the U.S.) and online until mid-December.

Sources: IDC, CNET

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Market Share is misleading
By KiwiTT on 1/31/2013 1:44:29 PM , Rating: 1
All this talk about Apple's market share falling is misleading. At point 1, Apple's market share was A and the market size was X. At point 2, Apple market share A+1, but the market size is now 3X. Simply put the market has expanded expanded in two directions, more competitors and more volume, whereas Apple continues to produce as much product as it can for the niche it fills.

RE: Market Share is misleading
By russki on 1/31/2013 1:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yes they are shipping more product out the door, but still losing market share

RE: Market Share is misleading
By messele on 1/31/13, Rating: -1
RE: Market Share is misleading
By Shadowself on 1/31/2013 2:09:47 PM , Rating: 3
Most of Apple's market share issues (and actually shipping quantities issues too) has been self inflicted by Apple.

The real bottom line is that Apple has not gotten its act together enough to ship products in the quantities that people were demanding. So either A. People waited (meaning sales slipped to the first calendar quarter of this year) or B. People bought something else (meaning a very large fraction of those lost sales went to Samsung).

Yes. Yes. Samsung is selling some very nice tablets. However, Apple has done as much damage to itself in the fourth calendar quarter of last year as Samsung ever did.

Can Apple recover and fix its supply chain issues? I'm not at all confident they can -- just look at the top of the line, build-to-order iMac. More than three months after it was announced it still has up to four week waiting time before it even ships, according to Apple's web site. A month wait time on a three month old product? Apple needs to fix this fast or it will continue its downward spiral!

RE: Market Share is misleading
By KPOM1 on 1/31/2013 2:15:50 PM , Rating: 3
I think you are exaggerating a bit. Apple does need to sort out its supply chain issues (for instance, Tim Cook should hire a full-time COO so he can focus on being CEO). However, Apple wasn't going to keep 80% or even 50% market share forever. The supply chain maybe cost them 1-2 million iPad sales in Q4.

Apple won't produce a $99 tablet. They won't produce a $199 one, either. That's not their business model. Yes, they produced cheap iPods, but iPod was a flash-in-the-pan commodity product and Apple knew it. They see iPad as a long term product line, and don't want to get into a price war. They'll gladly cede significant market share at the low end to Samsung, Amazon, or anyone else.

By theapparition on 1/31/2013 3:03:03 PM , Rating: 4
Are you sure you don't know what market share actually means, because you've pretty much described how it doesn't.

Apple's market share is simply the percentage of sales for the entire market. What you are talking about is growth, where sales are still expanding. But the number of new competitors/products are shrinking Apple's market share. There is nothing misleading about it. The exact same scenario happened in the phone business.

Market share, as some have pointed out many times, doesn't guarantee future sales growth, but it is an important metric for determining consumer preference. Shrinking market share, is generally never considered a good thing. As much as you've tried to spin it, it still worries the industry and investors.

At one time RIM had a huge market share AND great profits. Then they started to see their market share decline......all while the market was expanding with new competitors. In a few years they are trying to reboot the companies image in a bid to stay alive. Sound familiar. Apple's scenario is quite different, but the churn rate of mobile products is so high that a company can lose it's entire customer base in only a few years with a change in the winds. Its a very volatile industry.

Now as to whether Apple is concerned with market share loss while raking in huge profits is another topic for discussion. My bet is they are concerned with it, but not by a huge margin yet.

By TakinYourPoints on 2/1/2013 5:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
The real thing that is missing are reliable sales numbers from more companies. What IDC is presenting are guesses, nothing solid.

From CNN Money:

... the only thing in the data that we can be sure about is that sales of Apple's iPad grew 48.1% year over year -- from 15.1 million to 22.9 million. We and IDC know this because Apple (AAPL) reported those unit sales figures last week

The rest of IDC's report is almost entirely guesswork. It says that Samsung shipped 7.9 million tablets -- up 263% -- but doesn't say how it got those numbers. Certainly not from Samsung, which hasn't released unit sales figures for any of its devices in years.

IDC also says that Amazon (AMZN) shipped 6 million Kindles -- up 26.8%. This despite the fact that Amazon has never once said how many Kindles it sold, a policy that remained conspicuously in force during Tuesday's Q4 2012 earnings call.

As for the rest of IDC's findings, they just get more bizarre. The press release says Barnes & Noble (BKS) "gained traction" in the tablet market, but the spreadsheet shows Nook sales falling year over year. Even more startling, the release says Asus lost share, while the spreadsheet shows Asus' market share nearly tripling on sales that grew 402.5%.

So yeah, really sketchy.

Aside from actual iPad sales numbers, the other thing that is known is that the it makes up about 80% of US tablet web traffic and the bulk of app downloads:

The Kindle Fire is at about 8%, the Galaxy Tab at 4.5%, the Galaxy Nexus at 2%, and the Microsoft Surface at 0.4%. These metrics show a big discrepancy between tablet usage and IDC's guessed shipment numbers.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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