Apple closes gap on Samsung in smart connected devices

The market, which consists of PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets, was driven by growth in tablets, which should outsell desktop PCs this year and laptops next year, according to research firm IDC.

An iPad being used as a sign in Apple's SF flagship store.
An iPad being used as a sign in Apple's SF flagship store. Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple is starting to catch up to Samsung Electronics when it comes to smart connected devices, or total sales of desktop PCs, laptops, smartphones, and tablets.

That's according to IDC, which pegged leader Samsung at 21.2 percent of the market for smart connected devices as of the end of 2012, with No. 2 Apple just behind it at 20.3 percent.

Given the premium price on its products, Apple already dominates Samsung from a revenue perspective. Apple captured 30.7 percent of the industry's total revenue, to Samsung's 20.4 percent share.

The smart connected devices industry grew nearly 30 percent in 2012, driven by a 78.4 percent jump in tablet sales. Total shipments of tablets surpassed 128 million units last year. IDC has high hopes for the tablet business; it's supposed to surpass sales of desktop PCs this year and laptops in 2014. Where desktops are expected to drop 4.3 percent and laptops fall slightly less, tablets are expected to grow by 48.7 percent. The smartphone business, which is starting to see slowing growth, will grow by 27.2 percent this year.

It's in emerging markets where a majority of the growth is taking place. The total market grew 41.3 percent last year, driven by 111.3 percent growth in tablets. The more mature markets saw slower growth thanks to a drop in sales of desktop PCs, a trend expected to continue this year.

"The pressure on the PC market is significantly increasing and we can see longer replacement cycles coming into effect very soon and that, too, will put downward pressure on PC sales," said Megha Saini, an analyst at IDC.

IDC chart on smart connected devices
IDC lays out its estimates for changes in the market for smart connected devices in terms of shipments and market share (units in millions). IDC
 

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