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iPad Drives Tablet Growth While Android Tablets Slump

Worldwide shipments of tablets increased significantly in the first quarter of 2012, driven by strong sales of Apple's iPad. But owing to a slump in Android tablet sales, overall growth was weaker than expected, according to a report released by market research firm IDC. Meanwhile, on the smart phone front, Apple dropped to second place as Samsung more than tripled its unit shipments in the quarter to land in the top slot.

Tablets: iOS Dominates
Overall worldwide tablet shipments grew 120 percent from 7.9 million in first quarter 2011 to 17.4 million in first quarter 2012, according to IDC's latest Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker. Of those Q1 2012 shipments, Apple's iPad alone accounted for about 68 percent of the worldwide total, at 11.8 million units.

For the quarter, Samsung moved up to second place, with Amazon, Lenovo, and Barnes & Noble rounding out the top 5. Total shipments were off 1.2 million units from IDC's previous projection owing t the steep drop-off of Android sales.

"Apple reasserted its dominance in the market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting big gains during the holiday buying season," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC. "Apple's move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers. And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well."

However, Mainelli said Android vendors are beginning to see some momentum and are expected to rebound going forward.

"It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points," Mainelli said. "We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point, and Google will enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon's Kindle Fire. The search giant's new tablet will run a pure version of Android, whereas the Fire runs Amazon's own forked version of the OS that cuts Google out of the picture."

On the horizon, IDC noted, the competitive landscape should be affected drastically in the second half of the year with, among other things, the launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablets (presumably in the fourth quarter), though the potential impact of these is still an unknown.

Smart Phones: Samsung's Resurgence
Meanwhile, on the smart phone side of the mobile equation, the situation was drastically different, according to a separate IDC report, the Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker,. Apple dropped down to the No. 2 slot worldwide, while Samsung saw a triple-digit resurgence to bring it firmly into the top position for the quarter.

Samsung increased unit shipments 267 percent from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012, from 11.5 million to 42.2 million. Its market share grew from 11.3 percent to 29.1 percent, pushing out Apple, Nokia, RIM to move from fourth to first place in overall smart phone shipments.

While Apple moved lower in the smart phone rankings for the quarter, the company nevertheless saw significant increases in market share and unit shipments for the iOS-based iPhone. Quarter-over-quarter unit shipments increased 88.7 percent to 35.1 million units in Q1 2012, and market share increased nearly 6 points to 24.2 percent.

That market share growth came at the expense of the remaining top-5 suppliers: Nokia, RIM, and HTC, all of which saw significant declines in both unit shipments and market share.

Nokia fared worst of the three, dropping off 50 percent to 11.9 million units and winding up in third position with an 8.2 percent market share, down from 23.8 percent in Q1 2011. According to IDC, Nokia is at a "critical" crossroads: "Nokia's Symbian phone shipments declined precipitously last quarter as demand dropped in key emerging markets, such as China. The company's current smartphone woes make a speedy transition to products powered by the Windows Phone operating system, upon which it has bet its smartphone future, critical."

RIM dropped nearly 30 percent in unit sales, landing at 9.7 million units and a fourth-place 6.7 percent market share. IDC noted that RIM's BlackBerry devices hit levels "not seen since 2009. Like Nokia, RIM is a company in transition. Smartphones running on its new platform, BB 10, will be released later this year. Until then, results like these may be a sign of things to come."

HTC's unit shipments fell off 23.3 percent to 6.9 million and a fifth-place 4.8 percent market share.

"The race between Apple and Samsung remained tight during the quarter, even as both companies posted growth in key areas," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's Mobile Phone Technology and Trends program, in a prepared statement. "Apple launched its popular iPhone 4S in additional key markets, most notably in China, and Samsung experienced continued success from its Galaxy Note smartphone/tablet and other Galaxy smartphones. With other companies in the midst of major strategic transitions, the contest between Apple and Samsung will bear close observation as hotly-anticipated new models are launched."

All other vendors combined grew 59.6 percent quarter-over-quarter, landing at 39.1 million units shipped.

Chart: Top Five WW Smartphone Vendors, 1Q 2012, Five Quarter Market Share Changes (Units)Description: Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, May 1, 2012 Note: Vendor shipments are branded shipments and exclude OEM sales for all vendors. IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker provides smart phone and feature phone market data in 54 countries by vendor, device type, air interface, operating systems and platforms, and generation. Over 20 additional technical segmentations are provided. The data is provided four times a year and includes historical and forecast trend analysis. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or [email protected]. For more information about this tracker go to: IDC, Tracker, Mobile Phone, Mobile Phones, Mobile Phone Tracker, 1Q201 ...Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts

Both Samsung and Apple beat out the combined unit shipments of Nokia, RIM, and HTC. Samsung also beat out the combined total of all smart phone vendors outside the top five, while Apple fell 4 million units shy of that mark.

Total smart phone sales fort he first quarter grew 42.5 percent to 144.1 million units. Total mobile phone sales (smart or otherwise) reached 398.4 million units for the quarter, a decline of 1.5 percent from Q1 2011.

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