The iPhone 4S gobbles iPad sales – but Amazon are on your tails too, Apple.
That’s according to new figures from analysts IHS, which show Apple’s grand share of the tab pie has dropped to 57% in Q4 – down from highs of around 73% – while new entrant Amazon Fire has soared to No. 2 spot with 14%.
Although “soaring sales” of Amazon’s Fire and low-priced tabs trimmed Apple’s market share, “it was [Apple’s] own newly introduced iPhone 4S that proved to be the strongest competitor for the iPad” in Q4, said IHS iSuppli.
In other words, Apple’s biggest tablet enemy was ..itself.
The $199 7″ Kindle Fire also played a strong role in the iPad’s downfall, particularly in the U.S, accounting for an astonishing 50% plus of tablet sales globally in Q4 last, despite its limited availability.
“Shipments of the iPad line fell short of IHS estimates in the fourth quarter as many loyal Apple customers devoted their dollars to shiny new alternatives,” said Rhoda Alexander, IHS researcher.
Apple shipped over 40 million tabs last year (up 168%) and 15.4m iPads and iPad 2s in Q4, meaning it held 62% market domination in 2011, but marks a fall from grace from the cult tab, which enjoyed global market share of 87% in 2010.
Ouch: iPad’s are hurting due to iPhone 4S
“The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets.”
The low priced Android Kindle Fire’s shipments hit 3.9 million units in last three months of 2011, pushing Samsung Galaxy Tab’s off the number 2 spot, although the brand held on to the second highest spot for the year as a whole with 9.4%.
Barnes and Noble’s Nook tab came 4th, while Asus with its Eee line up came 5th in the global tablet race last year, although its share of the tabs pie slipped in Q4 compared to the previous quarter.
Kindle Fire shipments was in line with the IHS early December forecast, representing a “respectable start for the Fire” Alexander noted.
“However, the long-term viability of [Fire] will hinge on the success of Amazon’s business gamble, which depends on tablet sales driving substantial new online merchandise sales at Amazon.com,” the analyst warned.
But the surge in Android tabs came at a high costs, say analysts as budget tablets, like Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook, created “chaos” in the the Android tablet market, forcing competitors to slash prices.
“The surge in non-iPad shipments in the fourth quarter was achieved at considerable financial cost, with sharp price reductions across most of the competing Android tablets and actual product giveaways from a number of vendors as part of promotional efforts for other electronic products,” said Alexander.
In turn, vendors could be turning their backs on Android OS tabs as the price race to the bottom battle intensifies (and Google’s acquisition of Motorola) and are now looking to Windows 8 tablets due this year as a more “profitable alternative.”
“Watch for a surge of Windows 8 and ARM microprocessor-based tablets in late 2012 and early 2013,” say IHS.
But the US analysts also predicts iPad 3 due in Q2, will sell like hot cakes, reported to feature a QXGA retina display and Siri voice assistant.
IHS also expect demand to outstrip supply as Apple fans jostle to get their mitts on the third gen pad.
Read IHS full report here.