Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Samsung Electronics Co. more than doubled its share of the tablet computer market in the fourth quarter, gaining on segment leader Apple Inc. as total unit shipments jumped 75 percent, researcher IDC said.
Worldwide tablet sales surged to 52.5 million units in the period, IDC said in a statement yesterday. Samsung’s market share jumped to 15 percent from 7.3 percent a year earlier, while Apple’s dropped to 44 percent from 52 percent.
New products, lower average prices and increased holiday spending all contributed to the surge in demand for tablets, IDC said. Apple’s iPad faced stronger competition from Samsung tablets based on Google Inc.’s Android software and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8, though it held the top spot as sales benefited from the introduction of the iPad mini and a fourth-generation device, the researcher said.
“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 shipment totals during the holiday season,” Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for tablets, said in the statement. “The record-breaking quarter stands in stark contrast to the PC market, which saw shipments decline.”
Samsung fell 0.4 percent to 1,443,000 won as of 10:01 a.m. in Seoul trading, extending its decline this year to 5.2 percent. Apple fell 0.3 percent to $455.49 in New York yesterday, extending its drop this year to 14 percent.
Amazon.com Inc. was in third place with 12 percent of shipments, IDC said, followed by Asustek Computer Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. Amazon increased shipments of its Kindle Fire tablets to 6 million in the fourth quarter from 4.7 million a year earlier, boosting the online retailer’s share to 12 percent from 8.3 percent in the previous three months, the researcher said. Still, Amazon’s market share dropped from 16 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Even as Samsung’s shipments more than tripled from a year earlier to 7.9 million units, the Suwon, South Korea-based company’s market share held steady at its third-quarter level of 15 percent, according to IDC. Cupertino, California-based Apple, which shipped 22.9 million iPads in the recent period, saw its slice of the market shrink from 46 percent in the third quarter.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet didn’t land a spot in the top five, shipping less than 900,000 units, the research firm said. The company introduced Surface, its first computer, in late October in an effort to blunt the effect of declining sales of personal computers. Microsoft’s software runs more than 90 percent of the world’s PCs.
“Reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best,” Ryan Reith, program manager at IDC, said in the statement. “Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices.”
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