Waiting for the Mini: iPad's market share drops to 50 percent

IDC blames Apple's woes on buyers holding their cash for the iPad Mini

Sales of Android tablets surged, while those of iPads slowed during the third quarter, according to the latest data from IDC.

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) slowdown put a dent in its commanding worldwide market tablet share, which slipped from 65.5 percent in the second quarter to just over half in the third quarter.

Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC, blamed the slowdown on buyers waiting for the iPad Mini to arrive. "Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping, we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, we believe the mini's relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter," Mainelli said.

The remaining top five tablet vendors all gained share during the quarter. Most notable was the impressive quarter turned out by Samsung, driven by its growing portfolio of tablets. Samsung shipped 5.1 million tablets worldwide in the third quarter, up 115.0 percent from the second quarter and 325 percent compared to the same quarter in 2011, when it shipped 1.2 million tablets.  

Other members of the top five tablet club are Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), Asus and Lenovo. All three vendors experienced sequential growth in the third quarter, while Lenovo and ASUS also saw solid year-over-year growth.

Amazon announced new 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets late in the quarter and began shipping the new 7-inch HD version, in addition to a refreshed version of the original 7-inch Fire, in mid-September, IDC noted. This helped increase its worldwide market share from 4.8 percent in the second quarter to 9.0 percent in third quarter, despite only shipping in the United States. The company began shipping to five additional countries in this quarter.

The market share growth by Asus was backed by strong shipments of its Google-branded (NASDAQ: GOOG) Nexus 7 device, while Lenovo's gains were driven by strong shipments in China, the research firm noted.

Samsung's tablet offerings "clearly resonated with more buyers this quarter. Its growth to 18.4 percent of worldwide market share during the quarter represents the first time a competitor has attained this level of share since the original launch of the iPad," said Ryan Reith, program manager of IDC's mobile device trackers reports.

"With the recent introduction of a number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, consumers now have a third viable tablet platform from which to choose. However, price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500," Reith observed.

Competition in the tablet market is definitely heating up. Who would have predicted that the iPad, which created the tablet market, would slip to only half of that market, as it did in the third quarter. Stay tuned.

For more:
- see IDC's data

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