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Why Are Tablet Shipments Suddenly Slowing?
Why Are Tablet Shipments Suddenly Slowing?

By Jennifer LeClaire
August 5, 2013 10:19AM

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The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result. Apple aside, the other vendors are still figuring out which platform strategy will be successful. Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform. But Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market, said IDC's Ryan Reith.

After posting explosive growth and contributing to talk of a post-PC reality, worldwide tablet shipment growth slowed sharply in the second quarter of 2013. So says the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

Specifically, tablet shipments dipped 9.7 percent from the first to second quarter. But there's no apparent reason to panic. Tablet shipments did post year-over-year gains of 59.6 percent. Altogether, tablet makers shipped 45.1 million tablets in the second quarter compared to 28.3 in the year-ago period.

Apple, Samsung Sink

Apple's iPad saw a lower-than-predicted shipment total of 14.6 million units for the quarter, down from 19.5 million in the first quarter. In past years, Apple has launched a new tablet heading into the second quarter but many expect the company to hold off on a new product until later this year to tap into holiday shopping season opportunities.

Second-place Samsung shipped 8.1 million units. That's down from 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2013, although up significantly from the 2.1 million units shipped in the year-ago period. And third-place ASUS shipped a total of 2 million units in the second quarter. That's down from 2.6 million in the previous quarter.

"A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors," said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC. "With no new iPads, the market slowed for many vendors, and that's likely to continue into the third quarter. However, by the fourth quarter we expect new products from Apple, Amazon, and others to drive impressive growth in the market."

Windows Tablets Missing

According to IDC, Lenovo and Acer both re-entered the top five tablet makers this quarter. For the first time, Lenovo's shipments surpassed the million unit mark in a quarter with 1.5 million devices. That's up 313.9 percent from a year ago and enough to capture 3.3% market share. Ranking fifth, Acer shipped 1.4 million tablets in the second quarter. That's a 247.9 percent year-over-year growth and an increase of 35.4 percent over the first quarter of 2013.

"The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result," said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobility Tracker programs. "Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out which platform strategy will be successful over the long run. To date, Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform. However, Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market."

A Lesson From the Late Palm

We asked Michael Disabato, managing vice president of Network and Telecom at Gartner, for his thoughts on the latest IDC tablet report. He told us the bottom line is this: Few people are going to buy iPads in July when the next version is coming out closer to October.

"This is the problem Apple and everybody else has when they start pegging the next release dates on their products. This is why Palm would never ever commit to when the next release date," Disabato said. "They knew sales would tail off in the four to six months beforehand. Past six months people don't want to wait. Inside six months they hold out unless the device breaks."

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