A new survey on tablets released by IDC this week shows that
the tablets market continues to expand at a healthy rate. Easily
exceeding numbers for the entire first half of 2012, tablet
shipments for the first quarter of 2013 came in at 49.2 million
units for the first quarter of 2013. The demand for devices with
smaller screens shows no sign of letting up, which means that
prospects for tablets remain bright.
Moving into the list of the top five tablet makers for the first
) at fifth place. Sales of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets
together amounted to a total of around 900,000 units. A large
number of these were Surface Pro units which are being sold in
the U.S. and Canada since February.
The company has said that it is looking to increase the
regional distribution of both the Surface RT and the Surface Pro.
Taking into account figures across all vendors, Windows 8 and
Windows RT sales together amount to 1.8 million units.
) continues to lead the tablet pack. The iPad maker beat
forecasts of 18.7 million units to end up with a significantly
higher 19.5 million units. Even so, the company's market share
dropped below 40% in the first quarter of 2013. This is also
significantly lower than the 58.1% market share it held a year
Meanwhile, in second place, Samsung grew year over year by a
whopping 282.6%. Its total worldwide market share has grown to
17.9% from 11.3% in the first quarter of 2012.
At the third spot, in place of last year's occupant
), we have Asustek Computer Inc. This despite the fact that
Amazon has experienced year over year growth of 157% for its
Kindle Fire devices. Asustek seems to have surpassed other tech
) at the tablet game.
However, setting aside the Surface products, other Windows 8 and
Windows RT tablets are continuing to find the going rather tough.
A Program Manager at IDC has drawn attention to the fact that
rumours about Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets with smaller
screens have been doing the rounds for some time now. But this
doesn't look like the panacea for Microsoft's tablet worries. The
bigger challenges for the company are lower cost competition and
If Microsoft manages to solve these issues, simultaneously
providing devices with smaller screen sizes, it may emerge as a
winner in the days to come. This is particularly significant in a
market which seems to be favoring two avenues of growth. First up
are the 7 to 8 inch devices such as the iPad Mini and the Galaxy
Note. Then there are the lower-priced tablets such as the Kindle
Fire and the Nexus 7.
Currently, Microsoft's two key offerings, the Surface RT and Pro
tablets are unable to fit into any one these two
categories. And Microsoft has still made little headway
into a market which is slowly outweighing the traditional PC
segment. The Surface Pro has sold only 700,000 units in its
first quarter, belying the huge publicity it received as support.
This is a paltry amount when compared to the iPad's three million
in the quarter when it was first launched.
Going by IDC's figures, the first quarter of 2013, two tablets
were sold for every three PCs sold. This means that if the tablet
market continues to grow at its current rate, tablets will
overtake PCs by the end of the year. What Microsoft needs
urgently is a device at a significantly lower price point, say
However, with the lion's share of Microsoft's profits still
coming from Windows and Office licenses, a cheaper product seems
unlikely right now. But if it wants to move up the tablets
charts, this could be the only option the software giant has.
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