Apple ... tablet market share dropped to 50 per cent, but still selling strongly. Photo: Getty Images
Apple's share of the market for tablet computers fell to 50 per cent in the third quarter as the iPad faced more competition from Android devices such as Samsung's Galaxy tablets and Google's Nexus 7.
Apple still had a solid lead and shipped more iPads worldwide than a year earlier, according to Monday's study by IDC. Apple had no new tablets out in the third quarter. It also might have seen sales slow amid expectations of a smaller iPad.
Competitors are turning up the pressure on market leader Apple.Ryan Reith, IDC
Apple could regain share in the holiday quarter with the release of new iPad devices, including the iPad Mini. Apple said on Monday that it sold 3 million iPads of all kinds through the weekend, double the 1.5 million iPads sold in the first three days after Apple launched the third-generation iPad in March.
However, the company will face competition from new devices from Amazon, Google and others over the next few weeks.
"Competitors are turning up the pressure on market leader Apple," said Ryan Reith, a program manager for mobile devices at IDC.
In the July-September period, Apple shipped 14 million devices, up 26 per cent from 11 million a year ago. Its market share fell from 60 per cent in the third quarter of 2011 as the overall tablet market grew by 50 per cent to nearly 28 million.
Samsung's market share grew to 18 per cent, from about 7 per cent, as it more than quadrupled the number of tablets shipped to 5.1 million. The quarter saw the release of the Galaxy Note 10.1, a device built for use with a stylus.
Amazon.com was in third with its Kindle Fire, which had a 9 per cent market share. Amazon didn't release a new version until late in the quarter, but it had nothing in the third quarter of 2011 because the Fire wasn't released until last November, after the quarter ended. Amazon managed a 9 per cent worldwide share even though the Fire was available only in the US during the third quarter.
No. 4 tablet maker AsusTek, which makes the Nexus 7 for Google, saw its shipments more than triple to 2.4 million. It had a share of 8.6 per cent, up from 3.8 per cent.
Amazon and Google will start shipping larger versions of its tablets this month. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 both have had screens measuring 7 inches diagonally. Google's Nexus 10 will be 10.1 inches, while Amazon's will be 8.9 inches. By comparison, Apple's regular iPad is 9.7 inches, and the new iPad mini is 7.9 inches. Samsung is making the larger Nexus tablet, while AsusTek will continue making the 7-inch one.
Meanwhile, tablets and other devices running Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows RT started going on sale last month, after the third quarter ended, including Microsoft's own Surface.
The top five manufacturers of tablets in the third quarter
1. Apple, maker of the iPad, 14 million shipped worldwide, 50.4 per cent share
2. Samsung, maker of Galaxy line, 5.1 million, 18.4 per cent
3. Amazon.com, maker of Kindle Fire, 2.5 million, 9 per cent
4. AsusTek, maker of Transformer line and Google's Nexus 7, 2.4 million, 8.6 per cent
5. Lenovo, 400,000, 1.4 per cent
- Others, including Barnes & Noble's Nook, 3.3 million, 12.2 per cent
Source: IDC 2012