Looks like the tablet wars is starting to get mighty interesting...
Apple has lorded over the tablet sector since it released its first iPad in 2010. But increased competition is finally giving the Cupertino, Calif., company some, well, company in the tablet space. At the top of the list is another U.S. company that also happens to start with the letter “A.” Amazon closed 2011 en fuego thanks to its new tablet, the Kindle Fire, which helped the company leapfrog Samsung as the No. 2 tablet seller in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to IHS Inc.
Amazon sold about 3.9 million tablets in the last three months of 2011 — good enough for a market share of 14 percent. That’s quite impressive, given the fact that the company had zero market share in the previous quarter. Amazon’s tablet sales were also good enough to eclipse Samsung’s, which were a little over 2 million. Samsung’s market share also fell from 11 percent in the third quarter to 8 percent. Samsung is known for its Android-based tablets, which include the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 7.7. Samsung did manage to hold on to the No. 2 spot for the full year, although it will likely have a harder time doing so in 2012 given that Amazon will be in the race for the entire year.
Also, although Amazon’s tablet sales were certainly impressive, it’s important to note that they came at a cost. The Kindle Fire, which is sold at a loss to help build market share, was cited as a factor in Amazon’s reduced profits for the same period. Still, the Kindle Fire’s sales also show that there’s enough room in the growing tablet sector alongside Apple, which continued to lead the market with 15.4 million iPad sales during the fourth quarter. In fact, Apple’s market share for tablets actually fell for the full year, even though the company sold more iPads in 2011 compared to the previous year. After posting an 87 percent market share in 2010, the increased competition caused Apple to drop to a 62 percent share in 2011. Interestingly, the iPad’s prime competitor ended up being something in-house.
“Shipments of the iPad line fell short of IHS estimates in the fourth quarter as many loyal Apple customers devoted their dollars to shiny new alternatives,” said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager, tablet and monitor research for IHS. “However, the primary alternative wasn’t the Kindle Fire — which debuted to solid sales in the fourth quarter — but Apple’s own iPhone 4S smartphone. The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets.”
Still, the fact that 38 percent of tablets sold don’t have an Apple mark is a positive sign for the sector as a whole. Back in 2010 when Apple took the tablet market by storm, there were doubts in some corners about whether a non-Apple tablet could succeed in the market. These days, those looking for a tablet outside of Apple’s walled garden have more options. Besides the Kindle Fire and Samsung’s offerings, you also have the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer line and Motorola’s Xoom followup, the Xyboard. The last holiday season also proved to be the best one yet for tablets, with sales leading to a surge in tablet ownership at the start of 2012.
In the end, all this adds up to good news for tablet fans as the future for the industry seems brighter than ever. And with even more cool tablets in the works for the year, it’s certainly a good time to be a tablet aficionado, regardless of whether prefer your tablets to come with or without an apple-shaped mark.