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IDC: Apple to approach Samsung in connected devices, tablets to surpass PCs

The iPhone 5 and iPad mini helped Apple largely close the gap between it and Samsung in terms of connected devices last quarter, according to a new report from IDC.

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Industry tracking firm International Data Corporation (IDC) released on Tuesday its new Smart Connected Device Tracker report, finding that worldwide shipments of smart connected devices grew 29.1 percent year over year in 2012. The report found the total market for smart connected devices to be over one billion units shipped, with a value of $576.9 billion.

Apple and Samsung continued their struggle for supremacy in this market, but the release of two popular new products helped Apple close the gap. Samsung still leads with 21.2 percent of device share, but the iPad mini and iPhone 5 helped bring Apple to a 20.3 percent unit shipment share.

Apple still dominates the revenue picture, holding 30.7 percent of revenues in the fourth quarter. Samsung pulled in 20.4 percent of fourth quarter revenues. IDC estimates the full fourth quarter connected device market — including desktops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones — at 378 million devices shipped and more than $168 billion.

IDC's report contains more good news for Apple, which maintains the lead in the tablet market. IDC expects the tablet segment, which Apple's iPad currently dominates, to surpass both desktop and notebook PCs over the next two years. Tablets, according to IDC, should pass desktop PCs in 2013 as that market continues to struggle. Portable PCs — an area where Apple is already a major player — will fall behind tablets in shipments in 2014, according to IDC.

By 2017, IDC sees the worldwide smart connected device market hitting 2.2 billion units shipped, with revenues around $814.3 billion. Much of this growth will be in developing markets such as India, where consumer spending begins with mobile phones and moves to tablets now, with PCs less popular as time goes on.