These days, when it comes to tablet sales or shipment figures, there's no question the numbers will be high, with the only question remaining being "how high?" Well according to IDC's numbers, tablet shipments hit a record total of 52.5 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012, beating predictions.
Indeed, the tablet market grew 75.3 percent year over year in Q4 2012, up from 29.9 million units in Q4 2011, also increasing 74.3 percent from the previous quarter's 30.1 million units. There were a number of factors contributing to this, including lower average selling prices, a number of new tablet models and, of course, increased holiday spending.
"We expected a very strong fourth quarter, and the market didn't disappoint," said Tom Mainelli, research director for Tablets at IDC, in a statement. "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. 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."
Apple's iPad continued to lead the market, shipping 22.9 million units during the holiday season, falling almost exactly in line with IDC's prediction. A strong iPad Mini launch, as well as the release of the fourth-generation iPad, contributed to Apple taking home 48.1 percent of shipment growth over the same period in the year prior.
Still, though, the company's market share did decline compared to 2011's holiday period — down to 43.6 percent from 46.4 percent — with competitors such as Samsung, which holds the number two spot, encroaching on the iPad's territory. In fact, Samsung saw massive 263 percent year over year growth, shipping just under eight million tablets running either Android or Windows 8 during Q4.
Amazon, meanwhile, shipped over six million tablets during the quarter, claiming 11.5 percent market share, while Barnes & Noble saw a sharp increase in sales, shipping close to a million units. Asus saw its share slip from 7.8 percent to 5.8 percent, despite strong shipments of the Nexus 7.
Edited by Braden Becker