Worldwide tablet shipments continue to surge, growing 142.4% year over year in the first quarter of 2013 (1Q13), according to preliminary data from International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Tablet shipments totaled 49.2 million units in 1Q13, surpassing that of the entire first half of 2012. With growth fueled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, tablets have shown no sign of slowing down.
IDC highlights that sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple, which outperformed IDC’s most recent projections for the quarter, shipping 19.5 million units compared to a forecast 18.7 million units. Apple, which historically has experienced a steep dropoff in first quarter shipments (following strong fourth quarter holiday sales), experienced some smoothing of that seasonality unevenness this year.
“Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple,” says Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. “In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.”
Number two vendor Samsung also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments over the fourth quarter as more of the company’s smaller-sized tablets began to gain traction in the market. Samsung has also used its recent Android smartphone growth to help bring its tablet product line into new markets and channels, leveraging the opportunity to package and bundle. The strong performance of the two market leaders helped drive total shipments to an impressive 49.2 million units for the quarter.
ASUS managed to move into the number 3 vendor spot as it continued to see decent tablet shipment demand from the highly marketed Nexus 7 device. But, with Google’s I/O conference right around the corner and expectations of an imminent device refresh, the company will need to find a way to sustain its momentum. Amazon fell to the number 4 position, once again the victim of a highly seasonal product cycle.
Microsoft – a focal point for many in the tablet space, entered the top five for the first time as shipments of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets combined for a total of nearly 900,000 units. Many of those units were Surface Pro, which the company started shipping to the U.S. and Canada in February. Microsoft has said that it is actively widening its regional distribution of both Surface RT and Surface Pro products. Beyond the Surface products, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market. Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units.
“Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market,” says Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC’s Mobility Tracker program. “However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft’s larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond.”
• All data are preliminary and subject to change. Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors.
• Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports.
• Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.
• IDC considers all LCD-based slate devices with screens between 7 and 16 inches as tablets, regardless of whether or not they include a removable keyboard (such as the Surface RT). Convertible devices with non-removable keyboards (such as Lenovo’s Yoga) are not counted as Tablets.
IDC Tracker products provide accurate and timely market size, vendor share, and forecasts for hundreds of technology markets from more than 100 countries around the globe. Using proprietary tools and research processes, IDC’s Trackers are updated on a semiannual, quarterly, and monthly basis. Tracker results are delivered to clients in user-friendly excel deliverables and on-line query tools. The IDC Tracker Charts app allows users to view data charts from the most recent IDC Tracker products on their iPhone and iPad.
For more information, visit: