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Samsung Tablet Shares Gain While Apple & Amazon Lose; Only 900k Surface Tabs Shipped


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Sometimes we just have to share some "not-so-great" news, and now is one of those moments. Near the end of this story we found some some current stats on shipments of the Surface RT, and they don't look pretty. Here's the full story:

According to a new study by market analyst firm IDC, the 4th quarter of last year showed some shifting trends in the tablet marketplace. Their study was based upon estimated shipments and not actual retail sales, but should offer a decent picture nonetheless. First, the total tablet industry gained traction and shipped 52.5 million units worldwide. This was year over year growth of 75.3% in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11) and increased 74.3% from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units.

Next, we find that Samsung's marketshare growth out-paced both Apple and Amazon, who actually saw market-share growth declines. Specifically, Apple dropped to 43.6% marketshare in the fourth quarter last year from 51.7% in the same quarter the previous year. Amazon’s tablet share dropped from 15.9% to 11.5% from the previous year. Conversely, Samsung's share grew from just 7.3% to 15.1%.

It's important to note that even though Apple's total marketshare declined, they still saw shipment growth. Apple’s iPad shipments jumped 48.1% to 22.9 million units from 15.1 million, and Samsung’s shipments skyrocketed 263% to 7.9 million tablets from 2.2 million. Asus, the makers of the Google Nexus 7, also saw phenomenal growth. Their marketshare shot up from 2% to 5.8%.

Finally, Microsoft's Surface RT shipments were less than spectacular. Estimates peg total shipments to, at most, 900,000 units.

Here's the full press release below,

Tablet Shipments Soar to Record Levels During Strong Holiday Quarter, According to IDC

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., January 31, 2013 – Worldwide tablet shipments outpaced predictions reaching a record total of 52.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012 (4Q12), according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. The tablet market grew 75.3% year over year in 4Q12 (up from 29.9 million units in 4Q11) and increased 74.3% from the previous quarter’s total of 30.1 million units. Lower average selling prices (ASPs), a wide range of new product offerings, and increased holiday spending all acted as catalysts to push the already climbing tablet market to record levels.

“We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn’t disappoint,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets, at IDC. “New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season. The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years.”

Apple’s iPad once again led the market, and the firm’s shipment total of 22.9 million units was exactly in line with IDC’s forecast for the period. A strong iPad mini launch, plus availability of the fourth generation full-sized iPad, led to solid 48.1% shipment growth over the same quarter last year. However, strong competition in the market led to Apple’s market share declining for a second quarter in a row (down to 43.6% from 46.4% last quarter). Number two vendor Samsung experienced 263% year-on-year growth, shipping nearly 8 million combined Android and Windows 8 tablets during the quarter to grab 15.1% of the market, its same market share total from the previous quarter.

Amongst the other top 5 vendors, Amazon and Barnes & Noble both saw their market share increase sharply as new products gained traction during the holiday season. Amazon shipped more than 6 million tablets during the quarter, increasing its share to 11.5%, up from 8.3% the previous quarter, with year-over year growth of 26.8%; Barnes & Noble shipped close to a million units, increasing its share to 1.9%, up from 0.7%, despite a year-over-year growth rate of -27.7%. Meanwhile, number four Asus saw its share slip from 7.8% to 5.8% despite continued strong shipments of its Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet and the highest year-over-year increase in the top five at 402.5%. Microsoft entered the market during the quarter with its Surface with Windows RT tablet, but failed to reach the top five after shipping just shy of 900,000 units into the channel.

“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,” said Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. “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.”
Yeah, it's definitely not a well selling product. I'm hoping that interest will pick up when developers finally start releasing some quality apps for the platform ... if that ever happens.
This doesn't necessarily seem that bad to me.

Apple is credited with creating the current tablet market and is well known to move a lot of product. Not only do they have the marketing down but also the supply chain and retail channels. They shipped 22.9 million units of a 4th generation tablet plus a new tablet (iPad Mini) in 4Q12.

Samsung is widely credited with taking ever larger chunks out of Apple. They have a wide range of tablets with multiple generations under their belt, including a co-branded effort with Google (assuming the Nexus 10 counts as Samsung shipments). They shipped 7.9 million units in the quarter but just one year earlier that was only 2.2 million. Even accounting for the overall tablet market growth this is good improvement for Samsung from where they started.

Microsoft only had one first generation tablet available and for only 2/3 or the 4Q12. MS also lacks the supply chain and retail efficiency of Samsung and Apple and had severely limited retail options for more than half of the time it was on sale (more than 1/3 of the quarter).

A little basic math says 900,000 / 2 = 450,000 units per month on average. Extrapolate for a full quarter (3 months) and you get 450,000 * 3 = 1.35 million units. This doesn't even take into consideration the retail limitations and should be fairly conservative.

Now compare Microsoft's conservative full quarter shipment number of 1.35 million against Samsung's 4Q11 shipment of 2.2 million and things don't look so bad. Now also consider the fact that there is only one model, it is a first generation device and it had a very small retail presence. It may not be the 2-4 million that has been speculated as MS's target numbers for 4Q12 but the numbers don't look that bad to me in analysis and would technically place them in the top 5 on the chart above bumping Barnes & Noble.