Although there was a semblance of a tablet market that had been around for nearly a decade in the PC space, it wasn’t until Apple’s iPad launched in 2010 that the market really took off. The original iPad was a success for the boys from Cupertino, while the iPad 2 took Apple’s tablet sales through the roof. According to the latest figures from IDC, it appears that the “New iPad” is continuing that trend, putting it far ahead of its Android-based rivals.
While overall tablet sales were predictably down from the holiday season (28.2 million units shipped in Q4 2011) to 17.4 million units in Q1 2012, it still represented a 120 percent increase compared to Q1 2011 (7.9 million units). Not surprisingly, Apple’s iPad led the way with 11.8 million tablet shipments during the first quarter.
“Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers,” said Tom Mainelli, research director for Mobile Connected Devices at IDC.
Apple was no doubt helped out by its decision to keep the year-old iPad 2 (16GB, Wi-Fi) onboard to lower the price of entry for its tablet family to $399.
Android tablets, however, took a nose dive in market share during the first quarter, with Amazon falling from second place in shipments to third place, effectively swapping spots with Samsung. The sharp decline in Kindle Fire sales along with an overall weakness in Android-based tablet sales allowed Apple to rebound from a worldwide market share of 54.7 percent in Q4 2011 to a stronger position of 68 percent in Q1 2012.
“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points,” Mainelli continued.
Mainelli also expects Amazon to ship a larger version of its Kindle, presumably with a 10.1″ display. Unlike the current Kindle Fire, which uses a heavily modified fork of Android 2.3, the larger tablet will use the mainstream version of Android used by tablet makers like Samsung, Toshiba, and Lenovo.
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