Tablet growth wanes

Global tablet shipments grew to 76.9 million units in the fourth calendar quarter of 2013 (4Q13) according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The total represents 62.4% growth over the previous quarter and 28.2% growth over the same period a year ago.

And while the market’s growth rates remain strong, the IDC noted that they’re down dramatically compared to the year-over-year rates of the same quarter one year ago (87.1%) and indicate a significant cooling of the overall market.

For the full calendar year 2013, global tablet shipments totaled 217.1 million units, up from 144.2 million units for the full year 2012 and represents a year-over-year growth rate of 50.6%.

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that markets such as the U.S. are reaching high levels of consumer saturation and while emerging markets continue to show strong growth this has not been enough to sustain the dramatic worldwide growth rates of years past,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets, at IDC.

“We expect commercial purchases of tablets to continue to accelerate in mature markets, but softness in the consumer segment—brought about by high penetration rates and increased competition for the consumer dollar—point to a more challenging environment for tablets in 2014 and beyond.”

Apple again led globally, shipping 26 million units during the quarter, up from 14.1 million the previous quarter and 22.9 million in 4Q12.

While the quarter represented the company’s most successful on record, its year-over-year growth of 13.5% was well below the industry average.

“The numbers bring into focus the challenges the company faces as it attempts to grow its tablet business in markets outside of its traditional mature-market strongholds and in the face of continued success from competitors both large and small, IDC said.

Apple improved on  its global tablet market share for the quarter to 33.8%, up from 29.7% in the third quarter but down from its 38.2% share in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Samsung followed behind Apple, with an 18.8% share globally, down marginally from 18.9% the previous quarter, but up significantly from its 13% share before.

Rounding out the top five were Amazon (7.6%), Asus (5.1%), and Lenovo (4.4%).

“Lenovo’s access to the Chinese whitebox manufacturing infrastructure has helped it drive more low-priced tablet products into the market, growing its share from just 1.3% in the same quarter last year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

“The company’s strength in emerging markets, and its increased market share in adjoining markets such as PCs and smartphones, makes it well positioned to see additional tablet gains in 2014.”

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Fourth Quarter 2013 (Shipments in millions)

Vendor 4Q12 Unit shipments
4Q12 Market share
4Q13 Unit shipments 4Q13 Market share Year-over-year growth
Apple 22.9 38.2% 26.0 33.8% 13.5%
Samsung 7.8 13.0% 14.5 18.8% 85.9%
Amazon 5.9 9.9% 5.8 7.6% -1.7%
Asus 3.1 5.1% 3.9 5.1% 25.8%
Lenovo 0.8 1.3% 3.4 4.4% 325.0%
Others 19.5 32.5% 23.3 30.3% 19.5%
Total 60 100.0% 76.9 100.0% 28.2%

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Tablet growth wanes