Tablet shipments are growing faster than earlier, already optimistic forecasts made by research firm IDC and others. A new report shows a record total of 52.5 million tablets shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012, a whopping 75.3% increase over the same quarter a year ago.
Though news of record-breaking tablet shipments has been standard fare in most market research reports for at least the past two years, the new IDC report has some surprises.
The iPad continues to dominate, with IDC estimating that Apple shipped 22.9 million units in the quarter, but its lead is slipping. For the second quarter in a row, IDC says the iPad lost market share in the face of strong competition, and now has a 43.6% market share. That’s down from a 46.4% share in the earlier quarter.
(iPad is still very much a growth story, shipments were up 48.1% from the same quarter a year ago).
Apple’s closest tablet competitor is Samsung with a 15.1% share, while Amazon is the only other vendor with a double-digit share at 11.5%. But the various Android tablet makers combined now account for over 50% of the market, topping the iPad.
Another surprise is how strong Samsung is coming on
The South Korean tech giant had a 263% year-on-year growth in tablet shipments, with almost 8 million units that were mostly Android devices, but also included new Windows 8 tablets as well just coming to market.
Asus gains and loses
The third big surprise in IDC’s report is about Asus.
The number four tablet maker by shipments 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%.