IDC: Apple will continue to dominate tablet market

New data on the tablet and e-reader markets show Apple still far ahead of the competition. And that won't change anytime soon, market researcher IDC predicts.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
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Apple's success in the tablet market in 2010 will continue at least through this year, a new report from market researcher IDC predicts.

According to IDC, 10.1 million tablets were shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2010, easily overshadowing the 4.5 million tablets vendors shipped in the third quarter. During the fourth quarter, Apple's iPad secured 73 percent market share, down from its 93 percent share in the prior period. IDC found that the Samsung Galaxy Tab boasted 17 percent market share in the fourth quarter, well behind Apple, but ahead of a "number of smaller regional players."

All told, IDC found that almost 18 million tablets shipped worldwide in 2010--with Apple nabbing 83 percent of the market, which would come out to around 14.9 million tablets shipped.

Although IDC was relying on shipment figures and not actual sales to customers, Apple CEO Steve Jobs did specifiy sales figures at the iPad 2 unveiling earlier this month. He revealed that Apple sold 15 million iPads to customers in 2010. So basically, it looks like Apple sold every tablet that it shipped.

For its part, Samsung reportedly shipped about 2 million Galaxy Tab units through 2010, but the actual sell-through to consumers was much lower. The company has not revealed how many units were actually sold.

Looking ahead, IDC sees the tablet market growing at a rapid clip. It believes that about 50 million tablets will ship this year as an increasing number of vendors join the fray and consumers continue to warm up to the idea of using such devices.

Regardless, competition from the Motorola Xoom, Research In Motion's upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook, and the scores of other tablets hitting store shelves this year will do little to affect Apple's market share, IDC predicts. The researcher said it believes Apple's iPad will hold onto 70 percent to 80 percent of the tablet market through 2011.

IDC also took a look at e-readers. The research firm found that more than 6 million e-readers shipped worldwide during the fourth quarter, helping the sector to tally a total of 12.8 million unit shipments in 2010. Although that put them behind tablets, e-reader shipments were up over 325 percent year over year.

During the fourth quarter, Amazon's Kindle led the way in the e-reader market, taking 48 percent share. That figure was up from the 40 percent market ownership it secured in the third quarter. The Pandigital Novel and the Barnes & Noble Nook took the second and third spots in the fourth quarter, respectively.

One other interesting tidbit: Sony Reader shipments were up 80.7 percent worldwide in the fourth quarter. Total shipments for the device surpassed 800,000 units last year.