Global tablet shipments slowed in the second quarter from the first quarter, its first sequential decline, according to preliminary data from research firm International Data Corporation. Compared to the first quarter, shipments dropped 9.7 percent, but on a year-over-year basis, shipments were up almost 60 percent. In the second quarter of 2013, manufacturers shipped 45.1 million units, versus 28.3 million in the second quarter last year.
Research firm Canalys estimates that tablets now account for 31 percent of all worldwide PC shipments (although their estimate of 34.2 million tablets shipped in Q2 differs significantly from IDC). Interestingly, Canalys said that 68 percent of the tablets shipped in the second quarter had a screen size smaller than 9 inches, indicating that consumers may not be considering bigger to be better.
Apple, Inc. (AAPL) saw its market share lopped almost in half in the recent quarter, a period where it didn’t have a new product launch. IDC estimates that Apple shipped 14.6 million units in the April through June quarter, down from 17.0 million in last year’s quarter. At this time last year, Apple commanded 60.3 percent of the market, but that plunged to 32.4 percent in the latest quarter.
Apple was the only company in the top five vendors to experience a contraction year-over-year. In fact, the other four companies recorded triple-digit growth. China-based Lenovo, which only shipped 400,000 tablets in Q2 2012, shipped 1.5 million in this year’s quarter, representing growth of 313.9 percent.
Samsung shipped 8.1 million units in the recent quarter, up 277.0 percent form 2.1 million last year. Acer’s shipments grew by 247.9 percent, followed by Asus with 120.3 percent expansion.
So has Apple lost its edge? Not necessarily. IDC notes that the tech giant normally launches a new product in the second quarter, keeping numbers strong for the period. This year, the company is pushing back a launch until the second half of the year, putting them in a better position for the holiday shopping season with the release of the fifth generation iPad.
“While it is true that Apple is losing its stranglehold on the tablet market in terms of volume, it will remain its most profitable vendor for years to come,” said Canalys in its report on August 1.
Quarter-over-quarter, Apple’s shipments decelerated from 19.5 million to 14.6 million. Samsung’s shipments also declined, falling from 8.6 million to 8.1 million. Asus shipments were down from 2.6 million in Q1 2013 to 2.0 million.
"The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result," said Ryan Reith, Program Manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker programs. "Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out which platform strategy will be successful over the long run.”
On that note, Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android operating system was the most used in tablets shipped in the second quarter, surging 162.9 percent to 28.2 million units versus 10.7 million in the year prior quarter. Windows came in a distant third (behind #2 Apple’s iOS) with 1.8 million units. The 1.8 million units was up 527.0 percent from only 300,000 units last year. Blackberry’s (BBRY) operating system was only in 0.1 million units to capture only 0.3 percent of the market.
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