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May 7, 2012

Worldwide media tablet sales slump in Q1 of 2012

Offset by Apple’s share of iPad shipments

By CBR Staff Writer

Worldwide media tablet shipments for the first quarter of 2012 were 17.4 million units, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The figures were lower than the previous quarter’s record of 28.2 million units recording a decline of 38.4%.

A steep drop in shipments of Android-based tablets offset a strong quarter from Apple and caused the media tablet market to miss projections, IDC said.

IDC Clients and Displays program vice president Bob O’Donnell said the worldwide tablet market is entering a new phase in the second half of 2012 that will undoubtedly reshape the competitive landscape.

"While Apple will continue to sit comfortably on the top for now, the battle for the next several positions is going to be fierce," added Bob.

"Throw in Ultrabooks, the launch of Windows 8, and a few surprise product launches, and you have all the makings of an incredible 2012 holiday shopping season."

IDC Mobile Connected Devices research director Tom Mainelli said 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.

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"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," added Mainelli.

"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."

Apple’s share of iPad shipments reached 11.8 million, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, and a rise from 54.7% in 4Q11 to 68% in 1Q12.

Amazon shipped 4.8 million units, down from 16.8% in 4Q11 to just over 4% in the first quarter, falling to third place behind Samsung.

Lenovo vaulted into the number four spot, followed by Barnes & Noble at number five.

IDC said companies such as Samsung and Lenovo are beginning to gain traction in the Android market, although total Android shipments were down sharply in 1Q12, with the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products.

IDC said the Android vendors are beginning to grasp that to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points.

Google is expected to enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon’s Kindle Fire, while Amazon is expected to come with a new, larger-screened device at a typically aggressive price point.

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