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Tablet Market Share Fuels the Android Ecosystem

Worldwide media tablet shipments totaled 27.8 million units in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12), according to the latest updated market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).

The tablet market grew 49.5 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2012 and 6.7 percent over the second quarter of 2012. Once again, Google Android-based tablet shipments -- led by Samsung and Amazon -- surged during the quarter. In contrast, the Apple market share retreated significantly.

"After a very strong second quarter, Apple saw growth slow as both consumer and commercial (including education) shipments declined, and rumors of a forthcoming iPad mini began to heat up," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC.

IDC says that they believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini.

Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping they expect Apple to recover somewhat. However, they also believe the Apple mini's relatively high $329 starting price enables savvy Google Android vendors to build upon the success they've already achieved.

Apple's slowdown resulted in a sizeable decline of the company's commanding worldwide market share for tablets, which slipped from 65.5 percent in 2Q12 to 50.4 percent in 3Q12. The remaining top five tablet vendors all gained share during the quarter as a result.

Most notable was the impressive quarterly results from Samsung -- driven by its ever-growing portfolio of tablets. Samsung shipped 5.1 million tablets worldwide in 3Q12, up 115.0 percent from 2Q12 -- that's an increase of 325.0 percent from 3Q11, when it shipped 1.2 million tablets.

The top 5 was rounded out by Amazon, ASUS, and Lenovo -- with all three vendors experiencing sequential growth over 2Q12 while Lenovo and ASUS also saw solid year-over-year growth. Amazon, which did not have product in 3Q11, announced new 7-inch and 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HD tablets late in the quarter, and began shipping the new 7-inch HD version (in addition to a refreshed version of the original 7-inch Fire) in mid-September.

This helped grow its worldwide market share from 4.8 percent in 2Q12 to 9.0 percent in 3Q12, despite only shipping in the U.S. (the company began shipping into five additional countries in 4Q12). The ASUS share growth was backed by strong shipments of its Google-branded Nexus 7 device; Lenovo's gains were driven by strong shipments in China.

Samsung excelled in the second quarter. The company now offers a wide range of media tablet across multiple screen sizes and colors, and that attracted more buyers. Its growth to 18.4 percent of worldwide market share during the quarter represents the first time a competitor has attained this level of share since the original launch of the iPad.

We'll have to wait and see if the upcoming holiday season provides an opportunity for further market share gains across the whole Google Android ecosystem.

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