Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad maintained its position as the best selling tablet in the world despite losing market share in 2013, according to the latest data from market research firm Gartner. Although Apple’s share of the worldwide tablet market shrank to 36 percent in 2013 from 52.8 percent in 2012, the 70.4 million units it sold in 2013 was more than the 61.5 million units it sold in 2012.
“Apple’s tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple’s approach will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share,” wrote Gartner research director Roberta Cozza.
Overall, worldwide tablet market sales reached 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68 percent increase over the 116.3 million units that sold in 2012. However, most of this rapid growth was fueled by sales of low-end Android-powered tablets. This allowed Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android to become the No. 1 operating system in the worldwide tablet market with a nearly 62 percent share. In 2012, Android only held a 45.8 percent share of the worldwide tablet operating system market, while Apple’s iOS held a 52.8 percent share. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8.1 grew its tablet operating system market share to 2.1 percent in 2013 from the 1.0 percent share that it held in 2012.
“In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications,” noted Cozza. “As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins.”
According to Gartner, Apple’s strong iPad sales in the fourth-quarter of last year helped it to maintain its lead in the worldwide market. Not surprisingly, Apple’s end-of-year surge coincided with the release of two new iPad models in the fourth-quarter. Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Air became available on November 1, while the iPad mini with Retina display arrived in stores on November 12.
Samsung (SSNLF.PK) boosted its share of the overall tablet market from 7.4 percent in 2012 to 19.1 percent in 2013, allowing it to maintain its second-place position behind Apple. Taiwan-based Asus overtook Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) to claim third place with a 5.6 percent share of the tablet market. Meanwhile, Amazon’s market share slipped to 4.8 percent in 2013 from the 6.6 percent share that it held in 2012.
Lenovo saw the most significant growth among the minor tablet makers with its 2013 tablet sales growing by 198 percent compared to 2012. However, the fifth-ranked Lenovo still only accounted for 3.3 percent of total worldwide tablet sales last year.
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