Worldwide media tablet shipments into sales channels rose by 23.9% on a sequential basis in the third calendar quarter of 2011 (3Q11) to 18.1 million units, according to (IDC).
That represents an increase of 264.5% from the same quarter last year, but 5.8% below the original forecast of 19.2 million units. Despite these slightly lower-than-expected shipments in 3Q11, IDC sees strong demand in 4Q11 and has increased its worldwide shipment forecast for 2011 to 63.3 million units, up from a previous projection of 62.5 million units.
Apple continued to drive worldwide media tablet shipments in 3Q11. The company shipped 11.1 million units in 3Q11, up from 9.3 million units in 2Q11. That represents a 61.5% worldwide market share (down from 63.3% in 2Q11). HP entered and left the market in 3Q11 with its TouchPad product. The company shipped 903,354 units to grab a 5% share of the worldwide market, number three behind Samsung's 5.6% market share. After IDC updated its taxonomy to move LCD-based devices such as Barnes & Noble's Nook Color into the media tablet category, Barnes & Noble shipped 805,458 units to achieve the number four spot with a 4.5% market share. ASUS rounded out the top five with a 4% share.
After ceding share in 3Q11 (down to 32.4% from 33.2% the previous quarter), IDC expects Android to make dramatic share gains in 4Q11 growing to 40.3%. That increase is due mostly to the entrance of Amazon's Kindle Fire, and to a lesser extent the Barnes & Noble Nook Tablet, into the market. The share increase comes at the expense of Blackberry (slipping from 1.1% to 0.7%), iOS (slipping from 61.5% to 59.0%), and webOS (slipping from 5% to 0%). Despite HP's announcement last week that it would contribute webOS to the Open Source community, IDC does not believe the operating system will reappear in the media tablet market in any meaningful way going forward.
"Amazon and Barnes & Noble are shaking up the media tablet market, and their success helps prove that there is an appetite for media tablets beyond Apple's iPad," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "That said, I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11, and in 2012 I think we'll see Apple's product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with enterprise and education markets."
"Apple's larger portfolio of tablet-specific apps, upcoming iPad versions, and growing physical store presence in key emerging markets like Asia/Pacific will help maintain its global leadership. However, an improving Android OS experience and lower competitor pricing in an environment with worldwide economic concerns should help Android to increase its market share," said Jennifer Song, research analyst, Worldwide Trackers.
Despite the loss of LCD-based products (relocated into the media tablet category), ePaper-based eReaders continued to see strong shipment growth. In 3Q11 the worldwide total improved to 6.5 million units, up from 5.1 million units in 2Q11, representing quarter-over-quarter growth of 27% and year-over-year growth of 165.9%. IDC expects growth to continue in the fourth quarter thanks to new products introductions and price cuts from the major vendors.
"Amazon's introduction of the $79 entry-level Kindle and $99 touch-based Kindle (both with ads) led to a round of price cuts from competitors," Mainelli said. "That drops these products well into the range of impulse and gift buys for many, and we expect a very strong 4Q11 as a result."
"From a worldwide perspective, eReader volumes in the U.S. are expected to remain a huge majority at 80% share. Europe, the second largest market, should rise to its highest volume levels in 4Q11 due to holiday shopping, but is not growing at the expected rate due to lack of local language content and the uncertain euro zone climate," added Song.