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Tablets, Smart Phones See Explosive Growth as Apple and Samsung Solidify Their Leads

Nearly 25 million tablets were sold in the second quarter of 2012 (up from 18.7 million in Q2 2011), with Apple accounting for more than two-thirds of those shipments, according to preliminary data from market research firm IDC. Meanwhile, in the same quarter, worldwide smart phone shipments saw a similar dramatic increase--to 152 million units from 108 million in the same quarter last year--with Samsung by far the dominant player.

Tablets: It's All About the iPad, but Challengers on the Way
In the second quarter, as we previously reported, Apple sold more than 17 million iPads, up 84.3 percent from 9.25 million in Q2 2011, increasing its market share this quarter to 68.2 percent. Apple's unit shipments alone in the second quarter were greater than the combined total of all tablet shipments in the second quarter of 2011 (about 15 million).

The next-nearest competitor, Samsung, sold about 2.4 million tablets in the same period (up 117.6 percent from about 1 million in Q2 2011), according to a preliminary report from IDC released yesterday (IDC Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet Tracker, August 2, 2012).

"Apple built upon its strong March iPad launch and ended the quarter with its best-ever shipment total for the iPad, outrunning even the impressive shipment record it set in the fourth quarter of last year," said Tom Mainelli,IDC's research director, Mobile Connected Devices, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "The vast majority of consumers continue to favor the iPad over competitors, and Apple is seeing increasingly strong interest in the device from vertical markets--especially education. While iPad shipment totals are beginning to slow a bit in mature markets where the device saw early traction, growth in other regions is clearly more than making up the difference."

Other highlights for the quarter included:

  •, at No. 3, delivered 1.25 million units in the second quarter, up from zero in the same period in 2011. Its market share was 5 percent.
  • No. 4 ASUS shipped 855,000 units in the quarter, up 115.5 percent from Q2 2011.
  • No. 5 Acer shipped 385,000 tablets in the quarter, down 38.7 percent from the same quarter last year.
  • According to IDC, all other vendors combined shipped 3.07 million tablets in the quarter, down 16.4 percent from Q2 2011.

For the coming year, however,, IDC noted that there will be significant new developments in the tablet space.

"In addition to major new products from Amazon and quite likely Apple, we can also expect an influx of Microsoft Windows 8 and Windows RT-based tablets starting in late October," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays, in a prepared statement. "If anything, there's a real risk that people will have too many options from which to choose this holiday season. Consumers baffled by the differences between Amazon and Google versions of Android, or Windows 8 and Windows RT, may well default to market leader Apple. Or they may simply choose to remain on the sideline for another cycle."

Smart Phones: Samsung Takes Massive Lead as Apple Declines in Market Share
In a separate report released last week, IDC found that in the second quarter of 2012, Samsung not only overtook Apple to become the leader in smart phone unit shipments, but its market share grew to nearly double that of Apple.

Samsung's market share in smart phone unit shipments increased from 17 percent in Q2 2011 to 32.6 percent in Q2 2012, as Apple actually lost a small share of the market even as sales of its iOS-based smart phones increased.

During the second quarter, Samsung shipped 50.2 million smart phones, up from 18.4 million in Q2 2011--nearly a 173 percent increase.

Apple increased its unit shipments as well. Sales of iPhones in the second quarter reached 26 million, up 27.5 percent from Q2 2001. But Apple's overall smart phone market share declined from 18.8 percent in in Q2 2011 to 16.9 percent in Q2 2012, according to IDC.

"Samsung and Apple have quickly become the global smartphone heavyweights though both employ somewhat different approaches to the market," said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. "Samsung employs a 'shotgun' strategy wherein many models are created that cover a wide range of market segments. Apple, in contrast, offers a small number of high-profile models. While both companies have expanded their geographic presence in pursuit of market share, the two companies will inevitably come into greater conflict as both try to generate additional gains."

Other highlights from the smart phone report included:

  • During the quarter, Nokia and HTC both lost market share and declined in unit shipments.
  • No. 3 Nokia fell 38.9 percent to 10.2 million units and an overall market share of 6.6 percent.
  • No. 4 HTC's unit shipments declined 24.1 percent in the quarter to 8.8 million units and an overall market share of 5.7 percent.
  • Meanwhile, No. 5 ZTE increased its unit shipments by 300 percent, totaling 8 million in the quarter. Its market share was 5.2 percent.
  • All other vendors sold 50.7 million smart phones combined, an increase of 29.3 percent from Q2 2011.

Overall, smart phone unit shipments increased 42.1 percent in the quarter to 153.9 million units compared with 108.3 million units in Q2 2011.

"Samsung extended its lead over Apple during the second quarter, taking advantage of Apple's release schedule and launching its flagship Galaxy S III," IDC noted. "In addition, Samsung experienced continued success of its smartphone/tablet hybrid device, the Galaxy Note. As a result, Samsung topped the 50 million unit mark and reached a new quarterly smartphone shipment record in a single quarter. What remains to be seen is how the company’s smartphones will fare against Apple's next-generation iPhone expected later this year."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .