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Agile Computing Authors: David Dodd, Brian Daleiden, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, Harry Trott

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

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 402.3%. 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."


Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide Tablet Shipments, Fourth Quarter 2012 (Preliminary)
(Units Shipments are in millions)




4Q12 Market




4Q11 Market



1. Apple       22.9       43.6%       15.5       51.7%       48.1%
2. Samsung       7.9       15.1%       2.2       7.3%       263.0%
3. Inc.       6.0       11.5%       4.7       15.9%       26.8%
4. ASUS       3.1       5.8%       0.6       2.0%       402.3%
5. Barnes & Noble       1.0       1.9%       1.4       4.6%       -27.7%
Others       11.6       22.1%       5.5       18.5%       108.9%
All Vendors       52.5       100%       29.9       100%       75.3%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, January 31, 2013 (preliminary data)


Table Notes:

  • 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.

In addition to the table above, a graphic showing the relative market shares of the top 5 tablet vendors over the previous five quarters is available at The chart is intended for public use in online news articles and social media. Instructions on how to embed this graphic can be found by viewing this press release on

About IDC Trackers

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.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 48 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting

All product and company names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

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