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63.3 Million Tablets were Shipped Worldwide in 2011

Worldwide shipments of media tablets rose by 23.9 percent on a sequential basis in the third quarter of 2011 (3Q11) to 18.1 million units, according to the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). That represents an increase of 264.5 percent from the same quarter last year, but 5.8 percent below the original forecast of 19.2 million units.

Despite these slightly lower-than-expected shipments in 3Q11, IDC anticipates a strong demand in 4Q11 and has increased its worldwide shipment forecast for 2011 to 63.3 million units -- that's up from a previous projection of 62.5 million units.

Apple shipped 11.1 million units in 3Q11, up from 9.3 million units in 2Q11. That represents a 61.5 percent worldwide market share (down from 63.3 percent in 2Q11). HP shipped 903,354 units to grab a 5 percent share of the worldwide market, number three behind Samsung's 5.6 percent market share.

After IDC updated its taxonomy to move LCD-based devices -- such as Barnes & Noble's Nook Color -- into the media tablet category, Barnes & Noble shipped 805,458 units to achieve the number four spot with a 4.5 percent market share. ASUS rounded out the top five with a 4 percent share.

After ceding share in 3Q11 (down to 32.4 percent from 33.2 percent the previous quarter), IDC expects Google Android devices to make dramatic share gains in 4Q11 -- growing to 40.3 percent market share. That increase is due mostly to the entrance of Amazon's Kindle Fire, and to a lesser extent the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet.

The share increase comes at the expense of Blackberry (slipping from 1.1 percent to 0.7 percent), iOS (slipping from 61.5 percent to 59.0 percent), and webOS (slipping from 5 percent to 0 percent).

Despite HP's announcement last week that it would contribute webOS to the Open Source community, IDC does not believe the operating system will reappear in the media tablet market in any meaningful way going forward.

Despite the loss of LCD-based products (relocated into the media tablet category), the eReader device market continued to see strong shipment growth. In 3Q11 the worldwide total improved to 6.5 million units, up from 5.1 million units in 2Q11 -- representing quarter-over-quarter growth of 27 percent and year-over-year growth of 165.9 percent.

From a worldwide perspective, eReader volumes in the U.S. are expected to remain a huge majority at 80 percent share. Europe, the second largest market, should rise to its highest volume levels in 4Q11 due to holiday shopping, but is not growing at the expected rate due to lack of local language content and the uncertain eurozone climate.

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