Worldwide tablet shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012 outpaced predictions and set another record, 52.5 million units sold in a single quarter. According to the latest figures from IDC, the tablet market grew 75.3 percent year over year and 74.3 percent from the last quarter.
Apple's iPad still dominates the rankings with 22.9 million units and a 43.6 percent market share. However, that market share declined from Q4 2011, when it enjoyed a 51.7 percent share. Samsung saw its share double from 7.3 percent to 15.1 percent in 2012 and the Korean consumer electronics giant managed to ship 7.9 million Galaxy and Nexus 10 tablets.
Amazon and Asus also did well. Amazon sold 6 million Kindles in Q4 2012, up from 4.7 million a year earlier. However, its market share dropped from 15.9 to 11.5 percent. Asus, the maker of Google's Nexus 7 tablet, saw its shipments soar from 0.6 million in Q4 2011 to 3.1 million units in the last holiday quarter. It now has a 5.8 percent market share, up from two percent in 2011. Barns and Noble sold a million Nook tablets and it's the only big player to see its overall shipments and market share decline in 2012.
On the whole the tablet market is still booming and it's showing no signs of overheating. However, average selling prices are going down. IDC believes lower average selling prices helped push the already climbing tablet market to new highs.
"We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn't disappoint," said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets, at IDC. "New product launches from the category's top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season. The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years."
Microsoft is conspicuously absent from the rankings, but IDC believes it is still too early to write off Redmond's tablet push. The Surface RT launched last November, but Microsoft failed to enter the top five, after shipping just shy of 900,000 units into the channel. Microsoft will introduce the Surface Pro, a pricier x86-based tablet with Windows 8 in February and the hope is that the corporate market will embrace it thanks to its ability to run legacy applications. We wouldn't bet on it though.