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.