Apple iPad Still King Of Tablets Android Threatening Says IDC

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Apple’s iPad is still the hottest tablet on the block according to new IDC research with both Harvey Norman and JB Hi Fi reporting record sales runnning into Xmas, hower Android tablets are starting to each into Apple sales.

Apple’s iPad 2 took 61% of the tablet market in the second quarter, says IDC with sales rising 23% in the third quarter.

Total sales quarter-on-quarter rose to 18.1m – equivalent to just under 20% of the 91.9m PCs shipped in same period, according to IDC.

The research shows that Apple’s iPad accounted for 61% of the third quarter market, with 11.1m units shipped in the quarter, up from 9.3m in the second quarter. Its market share fell from 68% in the previous quarter.

Tablets running the Android operating system fell marginally in market share terms, from 33.2% in the second quarter to 32.4%. But the number shipped grew strongly, from 3.6m to 6m.

Jennifer Song, research analyst at IDC, explained: “Apple’s larger portfolio of tablet-specific apps, upcoming iPad versions, and growing physical store presence in key emerging markets like Asia/Pacific will help maintain its global leadership. However, an improving Android OS experience and lower competitor pricing in an environment with worldwide economic concerns should help Android to increase its market share.”

Android’s share will be boosted to over 40% in the current fourth quarter by strong sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook tablets, said IDC’s research director for mobile connected devices Tom Mainelli.

However while that will mark success for Android, it will not necessarily be helpful for Google, which gives the Android OS software away for free and aims to monetise it through app sales and adverts on “certified” devices. Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble use “forked” versions of Android which link to their own app stores, and do not have “core” Google applications such as Maps or YouTube. Without that connection, Google gets no financial benefit from those tablets, which are reckoned to have sold well this quarter.

IDC expects the fourth quarter to be the year’s biggest, with 23.6m tablets shipped – which would be equivalent to more than 25% of the quarter’s expected PC sales, of around 95m. It would also be greater than the 18m total tablets shipped from all makers in 2010.

 

For the second quarter in a row, IDC raised its forecast for the number of tablets that will be shipped in 2011: previously it raised it by 17% from 53.5m to 62.5m, and now it has raised it again by 1% to 63.3m – even though shipments in the third quarter fell 5% short of its earlier 19.2m forecast.

The forecast suggests in the fourth quarter Apple will ship just under 14m tablets, nearly double the 7.3m it sold in the same period in 2010, and Android tablets a total of 9.5m – though IDC does not split that among the different makes.

The third quarter was not a strong one for any individual Android tablet. Samsung led the field with a 5.6% share – which equates to just over 1m units shipped. The next biggest seller was HP’s TouchPad – which effectively crashed in and out of the market in a matter of months, took a 5% share as it sold 903,000 units. RIM’s PlayBook shipped 199,000 units by IDC’s figures, equivalent to 1.1% of the market. The other 5m Android tablet shipments were split among a large number of players.

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