‘Tablets Rising’: Apple Hits 20 Percent of PCs Through iPad Sales

Canalys is still staking its market share estimates on the view that mobile tablets are as relevant to PC market share as desktops and laptops.

Apple continued to lead the PC market, shipping 27.0 million units and taking its share over 20% for the first time. Photo: Marshall Jon Steeves/Flickr

Market researcher Canalys has again put Apple in top spot among PC makers with an overwhelming 20 percent market share. One-third of computers sold worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2012 were tablets, according to a new survey.

According to the research firm Canalys, with PCs and tablets combined, the market grew 12 per cent year-on-year in the last three months to reach 134 million units.

Apple shipped 27 million units in the fourth quarter, while HP and Lenovo both shipped around 15 million (HP slightly more than Lenovo), putting them in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively.

Samsung, buoyed by strong pad shipments, had its first quarter in the top five, shipping 11.7 million PCs, giving it a 9% share and fourth place ahead of Dell. It only shipped 9.7 million units, a 19% decline on 2011. Its direct business model is expensive and unsuitable for driving growth in new markets.

The report said just 3 per cent of tablets shipped in the quarter used a Microsoft operating system despite the launch of the new Surface and other Windows-based tablets.

“The outlook for Windows RT appears bleak. Hardware OEMs are ignoring it due, in part, to a pricing strategy that does not align with the economics of the pad market,” said Tim Coulling, Canalys Senior Analyst, in a statement.

“We expect Microsoft to rethink its pricing strategy for RT in the coming weeks. Dropping the price by 60% should get OEMs back onside.” OEM support and a strategy to educate consumers as well as attract developers should give Microsoft a better chance to turn the fortunes of Windows RT around.

No. 1 Apple, due to strong iPad Mini shipments, could have done even better. Canalys estimated the new iPad mini made up more than half of Apple’s tablet sales, and that Apple’s overall share of the tablet segment fell to 49 per cent, becoming the first quarter it has not controlled more than half the market.

“Apple’s growth in the pad segment was driven by strong demand for the iPad mini. Its overall shipments, however, were hampered by supply issues,” the market researcher said.

Canalys estimated that the Mini made up over half of Apple’s total “pad” shipments.

The upswings may have masked deeper problems. Apple and Samsung benefited from the iPad mini and Galaxy Tab lines, but they, Amazon and other tablet makers were reportedly propping up the market.

Amazon, another Android tablet player, also got a mention with shipments up 18 percent year-to-year to 4.6 million units.  It expanded the Kindle Fire and launched in markets outside the US.

Its international growth masked a decline in its home market, as it struggled to upsell customers to its larger-screen products. It also came under pressure from Apple, Google and Samsung.

The success of Amazon and Samsung has seen an increase in the share of Android-based pads, which now account for 46% of the segment. “The sub-$200 price bands now feature products from established players that do not rely on low-quality components,” said Tom Evans, Canalys Research Analyst.

“Those who control ecosystems, such as Amazon and Google, can obtain revenue from content sales, but pure hardware OEMs must accept decreasing margins or exit.”

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