Global demand for tablets hardly showed signs of a slowdown in the first quarter. Worldwide tablet shipments reached 49.2 million, up 142.4% from the
year-earlier period. The total wasn’t far below the 52.5 million shipped in the fourth quarter, when retail sales typically peak.
Apple remained easily atop the tablet market, with 19.5 million iPads shipped, according to IDC. Apple beat IDC’s projection of 18.7 million and broke the pattern of steep first-quarter declines for the device following strong holiday sales in the fourth quarter. Key to that change was continued strong sales of the iPad mini and people not holding off purchasing in anticipation of a next-generation iPad coming this spring.
Apple last week said it sold 19.5 million iPads in the quarter ending March 30, up 11.8 million a year ago.
At the same time, the iPad’s market share continued to shrink, falling to 39.6% from 43.6% in the prior quarter. Making inroads was No. 2 tablet player Samsung, which shipped 8.8 million units for a 17.9% share, up from 15% in the fourth quarter. Like Apple, IDC said Samsung has benefited from growing sales of smaller-sized tablets in its popular Galaxy line of devices.
ASUS, which makes the Google Nexus 7 device moved into the third spot, with 2.7 million tablets shipped, or 5.5% market share, while Amazon slipped to fourth on seasonally weaker Kindle sales. It shipped 1.8 million of the devices, for 3.7% share.
Breaking into the top five for the first time was Microsoft, with combined shipments of the Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets totaling 900,000, for 1.8% share. Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, however, have failed to gain traction, with shipments across all vendors reaching 1.8 million units.
Looking at tablets by operating systems, Android’s share of the tablet market in the first quarter climbed to 56.5%, up from 39.4% a year ago, thanks largely to Samsung’s gains. Conversely, iOS’ 39.6% share is down from 58.1% in the same period. Windows, Windows RT, and all others add amounted to just 3.9% share.