Android Tablets Edge Out iPad: IDC

May 02, 2013 (06:05 AM EDT)

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The global tablet market saw incredible growth year-over-year, jumping 142.4% during the first quarter of 2013. Tablet makers shipped 49.2 million devices, which, according to analyst firm IDC, is more than they shipped during the entire first half of 2012. Apple remained the number one tablet vendor throughout the first three months of the year, but the iPad's overall share of the tablet market has dropped sharply from a year ago.

Apple shipped 19.5 million iPads, giving it 39.6% of the 49.2 million tablets shipped during the period. There's no denying that Apple shipped more tablets than any other hardware vendor. Though Apple saw growth in the number of shipments, increasing 65.3% from 11.5 million in the year-ago period, iOS's dominant position in the tablet market crashed from 58.1% to 39.6%.

Google's Android platform is now the dominant operating system on tablets worldwide.

Android tablet vendors shipped an aggregate 27.8 million devices, giving Android 56.5% of the tablet market in terms of the operating system. Those same vendors shipped only 8 million tablets in the year-ago period. Android saw 247.5% growth year-over-year.

Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT platforms together saw shipments of 1.8 million, giving them a combined presence of just 3.7% of the market.

[ iPad's diminutive little brother is winning the popularity contest with consumers. Read iPad Mini Eating iPad's Lunch. ]

Looking at the individual hardware makers, it is no surprise to see Samsung in second place behind Apple. Samsung shipped 8.8 million tablets, giving it 17.9% of the market. Samsung saw impressive 282.6% growth from the year-ago period, when it shipped only 2.3 million tablets.

Asus fills out the third spot, with 5.5% of the tablet market, no doubt thanks to continued strong sales of the Nexus 7. It shipped 2.7 million tablets during the first quarter, rising 350% from the year-ago period when it shipped just 0.6 million tablets.

Amazon ranks fourth, with sales of 1.8 million tablets, giving it 3.7% of the market. It, too, saw growth, swelling 157.1% year-over-year.

Microsoft ranks fifth, with sales of about 900,000 and 1.8% of the market.

IDC's numbers differ a bit from those recently shared by competing analyst firm Strategy Analytics. Strategy Analytics broke things down differently, as it chose to largely ignore what it calls "white-box" tablets in its main analysis.

White-box tablets are low-end devices made by one company but sold with another company's brand on the box. Strategy Analytics says the bulk of the white-box tablets sold around the world run Android. It chose to instead compare "branded" tablets from known manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, ASUS, Microsoft and others in its report. With the white-box tablets off the table, Strategy Analytics says Apple's iPad still maintains the top position in terms of hardware sales and operating system. When you put the white-box tablets back in the picture, though, Strategy Analytics allows that, indeed, more Android tablets shipped than iPads during the first quarter.

The bottom line here is that Google's Android operating system was on the majority of tablets shipped during the first period of the year, putting Apple's iOS-drive iPad firmly in second place.

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