Apple’s iPad slips as Android tablets tick up in market share for third quarter

November 5, 2012

Samsung and Amazon made impressive gains in the tablet market during the past quarter as consumers considering the iPad held off their purchasing decisions until Apple announced new products.

According to estimates from IDC, Apple’s market share took a dive from 65.5 percent to 50.4 percent during the third quarter. Samsung, meanwhile, climbed to 18.4 percent of the market — the largest share that the company has had since the iPad’s introduction in 2010. The company has been marketing the Galaxy Note 10.1 and the Galaxy Tab line heavily as it ramps up to the holiday season, and those efforts seem to have borne fruit.

Amazon also saw a boost, thanks to the new Kindle Fire tablets that it announced in early September. It now holds around 9 percent of the market. Asus, which produces Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, also saw a big share bump, logging 8.6 percent of the market. It had just 3.8 percent of the market at this time last year.

Still, the firm said, this is far from the beginning of the end for Apple. Now that the company has taken the wraps off not only its iPad mini but also a fourth-generation iPad, researchers expect Apple to have a huge — but not dominant — quarter at the end of the year. Competitors such as the baseline Fire or Nexus 7, which cost $199, are expected to see success at the lower end of the market.

In a statement IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said, “[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.”

That opportunity is not lost on Apple’s competitors in the smaller tablet space, who are aggressively going after the iPad mini. Over the weekend, Barnes & Noble announced that it is dropping the price of the Nook Tablet it released last year to $159 for the 8 GB model and $179 for its 16 GB model.

IDC analysts also had some thoughts on the newest player in the tablet market, Microsoft. Ryan Reith, of the firm’s Mobile Device Trackers unit, said he believes the prices of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets will make it difficult for the company to win over consumers looking at cheaper options.

“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,” he said. “However, price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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