The market share gap between Apple and Samsung in the tablet space has narrowed by 25 points in the last year. But whatever the name on the label, the tactile devices continue to fly off the shelves at an incredible rate, IDC data has revealed.
Worldwide unit shipments in Q1 increased 142.4 per cent year on year to 49.2 million - more than the entire first half of last year. The popularity of smaller-screen devices was cited as a key reason for the growth.
Despite the steady erosion of its dominance, market leader Apple surpassed the analyst's expectations by growing shipments by 65.3 per cent to 19.5 million, comfortably ahead of IDC's earlier forecast of 18.7 million.
In the last 12 months Samsung's shipments have increased almost fourfold to 8.8 million, giving it a 17.9 per cent slice of the market. During that time the Korean monolith has narrowed the distance between it and Apple from 46.8 to 21.7 per cent.
Third-placed ASUS posted even more astronomical growth in Q1 2013, with shipments spiking 350 per cent on the corresponding period last year to 2.7 million. Its market share stands at 5.5 per cent. Amazon, in fourth, has seen its market share more-or-less plateau at 3.7 per cent as its growth has come in not far ahead of the wider market rate.
Microsoft squeezes into the top five for the first time, having come from a standing start in the last year to take a 1.8 per cent share of the market, with quarterly shipments of about 900,000. Ryan Reith, manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker programme, claimed the Windows giant has a year of both challenge and opportunity ahead.
"Recent rumours have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," he said. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8in devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges centre around consumer messaging and lower-cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen-size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."
In the last year Android and iOS have more-or-less swapped places in terms of tablet market share, with the Google-owned operating system now on 56.5 per cent, ahead of its Apple rival on 39.6 per cent.
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