Apple remained firmly on top of the tablet market during the fourth quarter of 2012, with major rivals rapidly closing the gap and Microsoft missing from the top five vendors, according to new market research from IDC.
During the quarter, which covered the lead-up to Christmas, total tablet sales hit 52.5 million, up 75.3% from the same quarter last year.
Strongly ahead of its competitors was Apple’s iPad, with sales during the quarter of 22.9 million units, up 48.1% from the 15.5 million it sold during the same quarter last year.
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However, the news was not entirely rosy for Apple, with its marketshare slipping from 51.7% to 43.6%, meaning the firm failed to capitalise on growth in the sector, despite the release of the iPad Mini.
Rapidly closing the gap in second place is Samsung, with 7.9 million units, with units up 263.0% from the 2.2 million units it shipped in the same quarter last year, with its marketshare growing from 7.3% to 15.1%.
The sales saw Samsung overtake third-placed Amazon, which saw its shipments grow by 26.8% year-on-year from 4.7 million units to 6.0 million units, while its marketshare slumped from 15.9% to 11.5%.
The big growth came from Asus, with a remarkable 402.3% year-on-year growth rate, up from just 600,000 units in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 3.1 million units in the same quarter during 2014, with its marketshare growing from 2% to 5.8%. As Google is not listed in the top five vendors, it is reasonable to assume that the Asus figures include sales of the Google’s Nexus 7 tablet.
Rounding out the top five, ahead of Microsoft, was Barnes & Noble, with sales slipping 27.7% from 1.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 1 million in the same quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, despite the release of its Surface RT tablet, Microsoft languished with just 900,000 sales, missing the top five.
“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best,” says IDC mobile device trackers program manager Ryan Reith.
“We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes.”
Earlier this week, a study by ABI Research suggested that business consumers will make up 19% of the tablet market by the end of 2013, with total sales expected to hit 145 million units.