Android Fends Off Apple's Holiday Surge To Keep The Lead In The Global Tablet Market

The tablet market ended 2013 with a strong holiday quarter. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Record shipments: Our data pegs global fourth quarter 2013 tablet shipments at just above 76 million, which is a new quarterly record for the tablet market. Quarterly year-over-year growth was 20%. For the year, total tablet shipments were just under 228 million units, for annual growth of about 75%.
  • Android year-over-year tablet growth outpaces Apple’s five-to-one: Android continues to have Apple’s number in the tablet market. We estimate Android tablet shipments hit about 41.5 million, for 36% year-over-year growth, compared to just 26 million units shipped for iPad, and only 7% growth. Sequentially, Apple did make up some ground against Android. It enjoyed 84% growth compared to the third quarter, while Android saw 31% growth.
  • But Android holds on to majority market share: Android’s market share was at 54% of shipments, compared to 49% in the same quarter the previous year. Apple’s, on the other hand, fell from 37% in 2013 to 34% in this year’s fourth quarter.
  • Overall, tablet market growth slows: year-over-year growth in the fourth quarter has slowed significantly compared to the same period last year. Growth reached about 23% this past quarter compared to over 90% growth during the fourth quarter of 2012.

The 228 million figure for total 2013 shipments falls in line with our recently updated tablet market forecast (we had predicted roughly 226 million units).

Much of the tablet market growth can be pinned on Android. Google’s platform has been piggybacking on the success of Samsung and its huge range of devices, which are marketed all over the world, including countries where tablet penetration remains low.

Research firm IDC credits the Korean manufacturing giant with about 14.5 million tablet shipments and year-over-year growth of 85%, just on its own. That means Samsung alone accounted for roughly one-fifth of all Android tablet shipments for the fourth quarter.

In our tablet report, we discussed how competition has heated up in the tablet market, and signaled that Amazon’s new, competitively priced Kindle Fire HDX was a strong candidate to siphon sales from iPad, particularly thanks to a seasonal holiday bump in the fourth quarter.

But in reality, Amazon’s tablet shipments for the quarter underwhelmed, reaching just 5.8 million, which yielded about a 3% year-over-year decline compared to the fourth quarter of 2012. Amazon’s market share in the fourth quarter also dipped to 8%, compared to 10% in the same period the year prior. The Kindle Fire, too, must have succumbed to strong Android tablet sales (Amazon uses a fork of Android that is not compatible with most Android apps or app stores).

Microsoft Windows tablet shipments outpaced the market with 83% year-over-year growth, reaching 3.3 million unit shipments. But, the Windows share of the entire market is still too small for it to make too big a dent. Microsoft’s tablet share only grew marginally from 3% in the fourth quarter of 2012 to 4% this past quarter.

Our estimates are based on information gathered from company releases, news reports, and market research firms, including Strategy Analytics, IDC, and Canalys.

Click here to download the charts and data in Excel

Here is a look at how the platform market shares stack up:

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, is an investor in Business Insider.

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