Apple still tops in tablets, despite dwindling market share

iPad shipments and market share were down in the third quarter, as archrival Samsung closes in with upticks in tablet shipments and market share, says research firm IHS.

Apple's fourth-generation iPad.
Apple's fourth-generation iPad. CNET

Apple shipped enough iPads last quarter to continue its reign as the No. 1 tablet vendor.

For the third quarter, Apple shipped 14.25 million iPads, giving it a market share of 29.7 percent, research firm IHS said on Wednesday. Those numbers were down from the second quarter when shipments totaled 14.62 million and market share rang in at 33.5 percent.

IHS blamed the lower shipments on a shift in Apple's iPad launch cycle. In 2012, the company unveiled new tablets in the spring and fall. But 2013 saw a single launch when Apple unveiled the new iPads last week.

"The lack of a second-quarter product release and anticipation of a fourth-quarter product update resulted in tepid year-over-year sales in the third quarter," IHS said in its report.

Sneaking up on Apple's tail was Samsung, which ended the third quarter with 10.7 million tablet shipments and a 22.2 percent market share, according to IHS. Samsung's numbers were up from the second quarter when it shipped 8.6 million tablets and took home a 20 percent slice of the market.

"The erosion in Apple's unit shipment market share was inevitable," IHS director of tablet research Rhoda Alexander said in a statement. "Cheaper almost always wins the volume race, and competitors were quick to adjust pricing when it became clear that it was impossible to achieve anything close to Apple's unit growth at the same price level."

IHS

Apple may be losing tablet market share, but the company is still scoring healthy sales on the iPad.

"Interestingly, in an environment where competitors on both the Android and Windows sides of the market are using price cuts as their most powerful marketing tool, Apple actually increased its revenue per iPad unit in the third quarter by $3," Alexander said. "Hardware profit plays a big role in Apple's success, enabling the design, durability, and performance innovations that, in turn, support Apple's premium pricing."

Apple also has the greatest number of tablets in the hands of consumers. Since the launch of the initial iPad in April 2010, Apple has sold 170 million tablets, IHS said. In contrast, Samsung has shipped 54 million tablets since it entered the market in the fourth quarter of 2010.

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