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Tablet Sales Accelerate, Apple & RIM Eat Android Share

Android-Tablet

Devices are hot and getting hotter, but it is still all about the iPad. Sales of media tablets were up 88.9% in Q2 2011 over the previous quarter and up a staggering 303.8% from Q2 2010. Manufacturers shipped 13.6 million units worldwide in the quarter, says IDC. As a result of this acceleration in market expansion for devices, IDC is raising its projection for full 2011 sales to 62.5 million units, up from the 53.5 million previously projected.

Apple maintained its market dominance, responsible for 9.3 million tablet shipments in Q2 or a 68.3% share of the market. In fact despite highly hyped challenges from various Android-based tablets coming to market, Apple's share actually went up a few points, from 65.7% the previous quarter. The one contender who made a slight dent was Research in Motion, whose Playbook launched in Q2 and took 4.9% of the market at the expense of Android, which fell from 34% to 26.8%.

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And it doesn't get any better for Android entrants, IDC argues. Android's share of the tablet market is expected to dwindle further to 23% in Q3, with a slight rebound in Q4 to 25.9%. Surprisingly, the on again off again HP TouchPad will benefit from its deeply discounted $99 pricing and nab 4.7% of the market in Q3 before going off radar once the remaining supplies peter out by the end of the year.

As for the long-rumored Amazon Android-based device, IDC makes an interesting call. IDC Research Director for connected devices Tom Mainelli says in the report, "Because we expect it to run a customized version of Android that ties its use to Amazon's content services, we expect the device to more closely resemble Barnes & Noble's Color Nook than Apple's iPad 2. As a result, our current plan is to count it as an eReader, and that will also help drive shipment numbers."

According to reports, it looks as if Amazon will open up the device to a wider range of Android apps than has B&N's Nook color, so it is unclear whether consumers will regard this unit as an upgraded e-reader or as an iPad 2 alternative. But with an Amazon overlay to the OS, and the company's vested interest in selling books rather than apps, it feels as if this device could go either way.

IDC goes on to peg the e-reader market at 5.4 million units sold in Q2, down 9% from the previous quarter but still up 167% from the year ago period. Holiday sales, however, will push the category up quickly with a year end total of 27 million units, which is considerably more than the 16.2 million IDC had predicted previously.

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