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Apple’s tablet share dips below 50%; Microsoft likely to retool Windows RT strategy

by David Needle

February 7 2013

Apple had record iPad sales in Q4, with the iPad mini accounting for over half of those sales.
Apple had record iPad sales in Q4, with the iPad mini accounting for over half of those sales.

Apple’s iPad sales continue to rise, according to new research figures, but its market share fell to 49% and strong sales of the iPad mini took a big bite out of pricier iPad sales.

Counted as part of the overall worldwide shipments of PCs, Canalys said the iPad led the way, shipping 27 million units for a 20% share of the market. HP narrowly beat out Lenovo (by 500,000 units) to take second place, shipping 15 million PCs. Both Lenovo and HP have an 11% share of the PC market, according to Canalys.

In total, tablets made up a third of overall PC shipments in the quarter.

Strong sales of Samsung’s tablets helped it move into the top 5, in fourth place ahead of Dell. Samsung shipped 11.7 million PCs (including tablets) for a 9% share.

Q4 was the first quarter Canalys had Apple’s share dipping below 50%, but that still came with record sales of the iPad for the quarter.

“Apple timed the launch of the iPad mini well,” said Canalys research analyst Pin-Chen Tang. “Its success proves there is a clear demand for pads with smaller screens at a more affordable price. Without the launch, Apple would surely have lost more ground to its competitors.”

The research firm estimates the iPad mini made up over half of Apple’s total tablet sales in Q4.

Microsoft needs to rethink Windows RT

Microsoft released the Surface RT with much fanfare last quarter, but Canalys reports that only 3% of the tablets shipped used a Microsoft operating system. The research firm says high pricing, poor channel strategy and a lack of clarity regarding its RT operating system led to shipments of just over 720,000 units, far less than industry observers expected

The Surface Pro with Windows 8 becomes available this Saturday, with other vendors releasing Windows 8 tablets this quarter as well.

“The outlook for Windows RT appears bleak. Hardware OEMs are ignoring it due, in part, to a pricing strategy that does not align with the economics of the pad market,” said Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling.

“We expect Microsoft to rethink its pricing strategy for RT in the coming weeks. Dropping the price by 60% should get OEMs back onside.”

Canalys says it’s not too late for Microsoft to make RT a success but it needs more OEM support and a strategy to educate consumers as well as attract developers. 

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