Apple captures 90pc of media tablet market, says IDC

18 Jan 2011

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Apple’s ground-breaking iPad represented nearly 90pc of the media tablets shipped worldwide in the third quarter of last year, IDC revealed. The worldwide tablet market grew 45pc, driven almost exclusively by demand for the iPad.

According to IDC, vendors shipped 4.8m units globally in the third quarter, compared to 3.3m units in the second quarter of 2010 and Apple’s iPad represented nearly 90pc of the media tablets shipped worldwide in the third quarter.

The growing popularity of tablet devices among consumers worldwide is evidenced not only by adoption of media tablets, but also of e-readers.

The third quarter of 2010 saw global e-reader shipments increase to 2.7m units representing 40pc growth over the second quarter, with the US representing nearly three-quarters of the worldwide e-reader market.

“The media tablet market’s rapid evolution will continue to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond, with new product and service introductions, channel expansion, price competition and experimentation with new use cases among consumers and enterprises,” said Susan Kevorkian, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC.

Defining the media tablet

According to IDC, media tablets are tablet form factor devices with colour displays larger than 5 inches and smaller than 14 inches, running lightweight operating systems (such as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS) and can be based on either x86 or ARM processors.

By contrast, tablet PCs run full PC operating systems and are based on x86 processors.

Media tablets support multiple connectivity technologies and a broad range of applications, which differentiates them from single purpose–focused devices such as e-readers.

Media tablet market evolution will be driven not only by product introductions from PC, consumer electronics and mobile phone vendors, but also by expanded distribution channels (with mobile operators playing a key role) and commercial adoption by businesses.

Looking forward, IDC expects the media tablet market to finish 2010 at nearly 17m units, and forecasts 44.6m will ship in 2011, with the US representing nearly 40pc of the total. In 2012, IDC forecasts worldwide shipments of 70.8m units.

Growth in 2011 and beyond will be driven by device vendors introducing media tablets based on Android and other operating systems, as well as price and feature competition and strong demand in both the consumer and commercial segments.

For the e-reader market, IDC anticipates 2010 to close at 10.8m units shipped worldwide, with the US representing 72.4pc of global shipments.

IDC forecasts 14.7m units to ship in 2011 and 16.6m in 2012, with demand driven by price competition among e-paper-based device vendors, the introduction of colour display e-readers, and the expansion of digital book and periodical content offerings across genres and languages.

Media tablet outlook 2011

Apple definitively led the worldwide media tablet market in shipments and set the standard for technology innovation in 2010, with nearly 4.2m units shipped in Q3 and an 87.4pc share worldwide.

During the third quarter, a handful of tier 2 and tier 3 vendors shipped media tablets based primarily on Android 2.1 and 2.2.

In Q4, Samsung’s introduction of the Galaxy Tab brought the first tier 1 device vendor to the Android media tablet market. Media tablet market growth is expected to accelerate significantly in the first quarter of this year with new products from multiple high-profile device vendors, including Motorola’s Xoom, based on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook based on BlackBerry Tablet OS.

E-reader outlook for 2011

Amazon was the market leader for the quarter with more than 1.1m units shipped and 41.5pc share worldwide.

Pandigital, which has a US focus for its Novel e-readers with models based not only on e-paper but also colour LCD technology, came in second to Amazon worldwide and just edged out Barnes and Noble.

Barnes and Noble, which is shipping exclusively in the US market, was a strong contender for the No 3 position in 3Q10 and is expected to have good results in Q4 given its strong brand, competitive pricing for its e-paper-based products, and the introduction of the new NOOKcolor in Q4.

Sony was a distant No 4 vendor, with slightly more than 200,000 units shipped and 8.4pc worldwide share. Sony’s early lead in the North American e-reader market has been usurped by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

China-based Hanvon edged close to Sony and effectively tied for fourth place with 8.2pc worldwide share.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com