IDC data indicates that Android tablet sales plummeted during the first quarter of 2012, dropping 13 points down to just 32% of the worldwide market.
“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.”
Android’s fumble allowed Apple’s iPad to recover lost ground, and reclaim 68% of the total market. And with Microsoft getting ready to enter the game, the rest of the season doesn’t look good for team Android.
Sales figures include Amazon’s Android-based Kindle Fire, whose total market share dropped from 16.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to a mere 4% share the following quarter.
Worldwide, total tablet shipments reached 17.4 million units, 1.2 million units below IDC’s projection for the quarter. However, that still represents a robust year-over-year growth rate of 120%, up from 7.9 million units in the first quarter of 2011.
Samsung took advantage of Amazon’s post-holiday weakness to regain the number two position while Lenovo vaulted into the number four spot, followed by Barnes & Noble at number five.
“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on,” explained Tom Mainelli, research director at IDC. ”Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points.”
While Mainelli has a point, one should note that the Fire’s agressive $199 price point and hardware subsidies didn’t allow it to maintain momentum after the holiday season ended.
IDC also expects the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products in the second quarter and beyond.
And that remains to be seen. Samsung and other Android-based manufacturers continue to be hobbled by the lack of the rich book, app, and media ecosystem that surounds Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Google newly rebranded “Google Play” may help, but would still require device makers to compete according to Google’s rulebook. This, as we saw in Jumping Off The Android Commodity Bandwagon, is still a major point of contention.
Then there’s Microsoft. New Windows “Metro” tablets will be coming later in the year, and Microsoft’s recent partnership with Barnes & Noble will give that platform much needed access to a large and still significant retail network.
B&N will also distribute its free Nook app through Microsoft’s Windows Store, so Metro tablet owners will have plenty to read. And watch, thanks to Xbox Live.
All in all, I think it’s safe to say that team Microsoft will be working as hard as possible to make their entry a contender, and is poised to gain ground at the expense of Android.
Why Android, and not Apple?
In the IDC report, Mainelli states that vendors have recognized that they need to compete with Apple on price… but nowhere does he anticipate the potential consequences of Apple competing on price.
Or the potential consequences of Apple releasing a new 7″ tablet this year, also at a lower price point.
That said, Mainelli is right about one thing: This has the makings of an incredible 2012 holiday shopping season.
- How Amazon’s Kindle Fire Is Burning E-Ink And The Dedicated Reader Market
- Jumping Off The Android Commodity Bandwagon