Research firm IDC today released its preliminary estimates of worldwide tablet shipments for the third quarter of 2012, finding that several Android tablet manufacturers saw very strong growth as Apple stagnated during the lead-up to the iPad mini launch. As a result, Apple’s share of the market fell to 50.4% from 59.7% in the year-ago quarter and 68.2% in the second quarter of this year.”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. “We 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 we expect Apple to have a very good quarter. However, we believe the mini’s relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter.”
Second-place Samsung saw its shipments more than quadruple year-over-year and more than double from just the previous quarter. Amazon has also experienced strong growth with the Kindle Fire and its successors, moving rapidly to secure nearly 10% of the market.
Historically, tablet shipment numbers have been viewed as flawed as each new iPad competitor flooded the market with shipments only to see the devices languish on store shelves. But with Samsung, Amazon and others now beginning to establish some track records and momentum in the tablet market, these shipment numbers are likely to be increasingly reflective of customer preference.