Media Tablet Sales up 265 Percent in Third Quarter, Fell below Analyst Predictions

By Erin Harrison December 15, 2011

Global sales of media tablets fell short from analyst predictions for the third quarter, but still increased by a whopping 264.5 percent compared to the same quarter last year, according to the latest figures released by International Data Corporation.

Worldwide media tablet shipments into sales channels increased by 23.9 percent on a sequential basis in the third calendar quarter of 2011 to 18.1 million units, according to IDC, but was 5.8 percent below the original forecast of 19.2 million units.

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

Apple continued to drive worldwide media tablet shipments in the third quarter, IDC said, shipping 11.1 million units in the third quarter, up from 9.3 million units in 2Q11. That represents a 61.5 percent worldwide market share – down slightly from 63.3 percent in the second quarter.

Jennifer Song, research analyst, Worldwide Trackers, said that Apple’s large portfolio of tablet-specific apps along with future versions attributes to its massive global presence.

“Apple’s larger portfolio of tablet-specific apps, upcoming iPad versions, and growing physical store presence in key emerging markets like Asia/Pacific will help maintain its global leadership. However, an improving Android OS experience and lower competitor pricing in an environment with worldwide economic concerns should help Android to increase its market share,” Song said.

Hewlett Packard came and went in the third quarter with its TouchPad. According to IDC, HP shipped 903,354 units to nab five percent share of the worldwide market, number three behind Samsung’s 5.6 percent market share.

IDC updated its categorization to include LCD-based devices such as Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color in the media tablet category. The company shipped 805,458 units to achieve the number four spot with a 4.5 percent market share, IDC said.

Analysts expect Android to make “dramatic” share gains in the fourth quarter increasing to 40.3 percent, due primarily to the entrance of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and to a less extent, the Nook tablet market.

IDC analysts said despite announcing it would contribute to the webOS Open Source community, they do not expect HP’s operating system will “reappear in the media tablet market in any meaningful way going forward.”

Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices, said that the success of both Amazon and Barnes & Noble are proof that there is consumer demand for media tablets besides Apple’s ultra-popular iPad.

“Amazon and Barnes & Noble are shaking up the media tablet market, and their success helps prove that there is an appetite for media tablets beyond Apple’s iPad,’ said Mainelli. “That said, I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11, and in 2012 I think we’ll see Apple’s product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with enterprise and education markets.”


Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TechZone360, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives

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