IDC Sees Apple’s Q4 Tablet Share to Dip Below 60%

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Research firm IDC said on Thursday that it expects Apple’s tablet market share to dip below 60 percent during the December quarter, with Android’s share climbing just above 40 percent. Amazon’s Kindle Fire gets the lion’s share of the credit for these gains, with IDC saying Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet also getting a nod.

“Amazon and Barnes & Noble are shaking up the media tablet market, and their success helps prove that there is an appetite for media tablets beyond Apple’s iPad,” Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices, said in a statement.

Accordingly IDC believes “Android” will claim 40.3 percent of the tablet market this quarter, up from 32.4 percent in the September quarter. The report said that Apple’s share will slip from 61.5 percent in Q3 to 59 percent in Q4.

Q3 and Q4 2011 Tablet Share

Chart by The Mac Observer with IDC Data

We put Android in quotes because the Kindle Fire is a derivative of Android forked off from Google’s Android development tree. As such, we believe it becomes increasingly difficult to argue that Amazon’s success contributes to the overall success of the broader Android tablet market. We’ll have to see, however, how the broader market, analysts, pundits, and the industry itself views these issues.

As for Apple and the iPad, IDC said that the company will continue to see growth, and the report cited Apple’s growing retail presence outside the U.S. as contributing to sales. Apple has begun opening high profile retail stores in China, for instance, boosting the company’s presence in that country.

“I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11, and in 2012 I think we’ll see Apple’s product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with enterprise and education markets,” Mr. Mainelli said.

Jennifer Song, research analyst for IDC’s Worldwide Trackers, added, “Apple’s larger portfolio of tablet-specific apps, upcoming iPad versions, and growing physical store presence in key emerging markets like Asia/Pacific will help maintain its global leadership. However, an improving Android OS experience and lower competitor pricing in an environment with worldwide economic concerns should help Android to increase its market share.”

The firm is relegating WebOS to the dustbin of history, despite plans to make it an open source project. Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook was similarly dismissed as a competitive threat this quarter.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Of course the Kindle Fire’s success contributes to Android success. Platform market share is about developer attention. And while critics call Kindle Fire a “fork”, it’s really not even a fork below the home screen and bundled application level. Before its release, the critics suggested that it was Android 2.1 or 2.2 that was “forked”, when it actually turned out to be 2.3.


Perhaps it can be tracked as the “Amazoid” fork. It remains to be seen what this business plan does to Amazon’s bottom line. These tablets are just getting in the hands of consumers. Will they buy enough through Amazon to offset the losses?

What will the Amazoid tablets do for Google’s bottom line? That is another question that seems not to be fully explored. A product that sells well is one thing. A product that brings a return on investment is another.

A third question is: What would happen if Apple decided to get closer to the Fire’s price point? Let’s say with a 7” iPad. Perhaps Tim thinks different than Steve on this.

I’m happy the Amazoid tablets were brought to market. It will be interesting to see what Amazon does with this.


We are in uncharted waters. The media tablet is not a truly definable market at present. All is based on ifs and rumours and who defines what is a media tablet at any given moment.

Any definition can be skewed to make any competitor the success story of the moment. It will be at least two years before we know what is and what isn?t a media tablet. Size, power and functionality seem to be the more important factors.

Innovation is important and I agree with skipaq interest in Amazon?s plans. I await the Fire?s first birthday. Until profits are sustainable, its all a gamble.


A quick nod to Jennifer Song at IDC; I noticed a huge iPad advert on the side of a building today in Dhaka while en route to the airport. Interest in the iPad and iPhone in this region is huge, and not to be underestimated among the wealthier, travelled sectors.

That said, no one should be surprised that Apple’s total market share may continue to shrink over the coming year while its absolute numbers and profit margins soar, increasingly on the strength of international sales.

wab95 and FWIW:

Sitting here in the business lounge in Doha, in my immediate field, 60% of the laptops are Macs (of which about half are MBAs). And just the other day in the Kuala Lumpur business lounge, the majority of people in my field of view were accessing their email via iPads.

We live in interesting times.

Bryan Chaffin

Interesting anecdotes, Wab.


...and just for laughs; I just attended a faculty meeting at back at JHU today. Among the smartphones in the room of 30+ - all iPhones. Neither hide nor hair of BB or Android - including from former stalwart anti-Mac members.

I hadn’t expected that.

The point of this non-scientific survey is simply to point out that mere marketshare numbers say little about where these devices are deployed, who is using them, and how are they being used. Clearly in science, medicine and business, Apple’s devices have gained considerable traction; in some cases you could argue, the Lion’s share.

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