Apple Continues to Dominate the Tablet Market While Samsung Outsold Amazon – IDG

IDG released a few details on their latest estimate of the world tablet market today, and the news was pretty much what you expected. Sales in general dipped following the holiday season, just like they do every year, and iPad sales dipped far less than sales of Android tablets. While little of the report is all that surprising, the one detail that is definitely worth noting is that according to IDG, the Kindle Fire didn't dominate the Android tablet market.

According to IDG's estimates, a total of 17.4 million odd tablets were sold last quarter, which is down significantly from iSuppli's estimated sales of 27.1 million tablets sold in the last quarter of 2011. Apple continues to have the dominant share of the market, having sold 11.8 million iPads last quarter, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 (according to Apple's own press releases).

Android tablets went from 11.6 million sold in Q4 to a mere 5.8 million in Q1, again according to IDG's estimates. Samsumg reportedly bumped Amazon from the number 2 slot Amazon enjoyed in Q4, with sales of the Kindle Fire dropping to just 4% of the market. Lenovo managed to vault into 4th place, with B&N rounding out the top 5.

IDF didn't mention any specific numbers, but simple math will reveal that IDG believes Amazon sold around 700 thousand Kindle Fires last quarter. That's an incredibly smaller number than the market crushing 54% that comScore reported last week. Of course, one small difference between the 2 sets of figures is that IDG included the Nook Color while comScore correctly regarded it as an ereader (that's what B&N says it is). Also, comScore's 54% refers to just the Android market, but I'm sure that was obvious. And the comScore figures cover Dec-Feb, which isn't quite Q1 2012.

But even when you take all that into account, there's still a huge difference between the 2 estimates. One said that the Kindle Fire is dominating the Android tablet market and growing stronger every day while the other shows that it's not. So why the difference?

The answer should be obvious once you look at all the data. The IDG numbers cover the entire world while comScore only reflects the US market.

I suppose I should have explained that sooner, but I think not. While working on this post this morning I read a bunch of stories from the blog coverage on that 54% figure. Most of the stories, even ones from the better tech blogs, neglected to mention key details like that.  Most also failed to point out that the 54%, while attention grabbing, covered only Android tablet sales during the month of February.

Still, today's news punctures last week's balloon, doesn't it? While the Kindle is killing the Android tablet market in the US, the fact that it's not available outside the US gives everyone else a leg up. Samsung is invested in multiple markets, not just the US, and that is why they came out on top.

Of course, the iSuppli figures from last fall raise an entirely different question. If both IDG and iSuppli are to be believed, Amazon went from selling 3.8 million Kindle Fires in the final quarter of 2011 to selling a measly 700 thousand Kindle Fires last quarter. It gets worse of you rely entirely on IDG. They believe Amazon sold 4.8 million Kindle Fires in Q4 2012.

See, there's a reason why I don't like reports like this. If we take today's IDG figures as truth then they reveal that all of last week's stories were bunk. But we don't know that the IDG figures are any more accurate than comScore or iSuppli. So far as we can tell from the outside, they're all just wild guesses.

I think they should be treated as such.

About Nate Hoffelder (11473 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

8 Comments on Apple Continues to Dominate the Tablet Market While Samsung Outsold Amazon – IDG

  1. Well both IDC and iSuppli get to their figures by checking the supply chain, ie shipments. If there was an oversupply of Kindle Fires in Q4 last year it is hardly surprising that Amazon drastically reduced shipments. Given that they never ran out during the holiday season, and that there are numerous sales (Walmart etc) of the Fire the conclusion is that the pipeline is pretty much stuffed at present.

    I cannot make much sense of comScore’s methodology. Of course if both B&N and Pandigital can be left out for what looks like somewhat arbitrary reasons… I’m reminded of elections in some parts of my region of the world, where huge ‘victories’ are racked up by means of excluding competition.

  2. It didn’t take 54% of sales, but of installed base. So most of its installed base growth could actually have been last quarter. So perhaps Amazon sold another half million in January-February, and that pushed up their installed share (in the US) while lowering their sales share (globally).

    Also, don’t forget that Amazon takes forever to sell its wares overseas, and still makes more than half of its revenue in the US. Apple pushes its stuff far more strongly in the non-US market, but the US still accounts for 30-40% of all iPad and iPhone sales if I’m correct. Compare Amazon to Samsung who just announced the S3 for Europe in May and for the US in June. And after that it will reach India, or Nigeria, or Peru. They’re a truly global company, and Amazon is not.

    Just like you said, there is a constant issue in tech reporting (or news in general), in the sense that the biggest and loudest outlets are all American, and sometimes they forget that 95% of the world is not. It’s the same with smartphones, sports, TV, everything. For example, Netflix may be killing cable – but in most of the world people watch TV for free! I live in Spain and I can tell you that the pay-for-premium model has attracted very few users, and even mobile streaming apps just put more ads on top of the normal ads.

    PS: ad-supported Spanish shows are far more popular than any American cable offering. Critics may rave about Game of Thrones and such, but when American series are offered in normal free TV channels, they get surprisingly low shares. Each market has its own quirks.

    • What’s the difference between sales and install base?

      • Installed base is cumulative sales to date.
        Sales is the rate of sales per month.
        ComScore was reporting that 54% of all android tablets in use were FIREs.
        IDG is reporting that Amazon sold a few hundred thousand last month.
        Not unusual with seasonal products to see a big spike during the holidays followed by much lower sales during the year.
        Gaming consoles are a perfect example:
        MS has sold 67 million XBOX 360s worldwide (I just saw the number this morning) since 2005.
        Last XMAS they sold about 4 million of those in the US over three months, whereas last month they sold about 400,000.
        And those are good numbers.
        700K FIREs in a month may not be in iPad territory but they still point at 10 million-plus for the year, which is what has been predicted for FIRE.

        • Then the comScore numbers are nonsense. There is bound to be more than 10 million Android tablets in use in the US.

          • (shrug)
            When it comes to android, different people believe different things.
            Trying to make coherent sense of all the different beliefs is going to need 5D math. Thankfully, it’s not my job. 😉

  3. All really good points, FJ,
    And the ComScore report was pretty clear that it was U.S. only and among Android only.

    I wasn’t convinced by their stated reason for leaving the Nook Tablet off but when it comes to being able to gauge how heavily something is ‘used’ — the apps activity reported by others plus the Ka-ching reported for developers from KFire apps relative to what they’ve received from Google Play tends to align pretty well with ComScore’s figures… for the U.S.

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