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According to new data from research firm IDC, Apple's iPad led worldwide tablet shipments hit 51.5 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, but dipped in overall marketshare amid booming sales from rival Samsung.
For the December quarter, Apple's iPad shipments grew 48.1 percent year-over year to 22.9 million units, while shipments from Samsung skyrocketed 263 percent to reach 7.9 million units over the same period. It should be noted that Samsung's numbers include combined sales of the company's Android and Windows 8 products, and Apple's shipments included all iPad models.
The preliminary data comes from IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, which noted the 51.5 million overall tablet shipments represented a 75.3 percent year-to-year increase, up from 29.9 million units during the same time last year. Thought to have driven the huge growth were lower average selling prices for new devices and increased consumer spending during the holidays.
The numbers are in line with Apple's statement of 22.9 million iPad sales over the three month period, announced during the company's quarterly conference call for the first fiscal quarter of 2013.
"New product launches from the category's top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season," said IDC Research Director of Tablets, Tom Mainelli. "The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline during the quarter for the first time in more than five years."
While Apple dropped in marketshare for the second consecutive quarter, the iPad and iPad mini still account for the majority of overall tablet shipments with a 43.6 percent share. Samsung came in second with 15.1 percent, while Amazon's Kindle range accounted for 11.5 percent of the market. Trailing the top three was Asus, which saw a massive 402.5 percent boost year-to-year on shipments of 3.1 million units, but dropped from 7.8 percent to 5.8 percent in quarterly marketshare.
As for Microsoft's Surface, the tablet failed to break into the top five with just under 900,000 units shipped after launching at the end of October. IDC program director for Mobile Device Trackers Ryan Reith believes the Redmond software giant is serious about competing in the tablet hardware space, but questions the company's market strategy.
"We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices," he said. "In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes."