Apple tablet shipments slump as users snap-up smaller Android devices


Apple's position as the tablet market's leading vendor took a battering during the second quarter of 2013, with both its shipment figures and market share slumping.

According to figures released by market watcher Canalys, charting the Q2 performance of the global tablet market, more than 34 million of the devices shipped during the quarter, which is 43 per cent higher than last year.

We expect to see a substantial increase in the quantity of apps built or optimised for Android tablets over the next 12 months.

However, Apple has seen its tablet shipments shrink by 14 per cent over the past 12 months, from 17 million in Q2 2012 to 14.6 million this year. Over the same time period, the company's market share has dropped from 71.2 per cent to 42.7 per cent.

The analyst house has attributed the downturn in Apple's fortunes to its ageing product portfolio, and doesn't hold out much hope this trend will be reversed when the next version of the iPad drops.

James Wang, Canalys analyst, said Apple is unlikely to experience the same "buzz" around its new product launches as it used to because tablets are such a mainstream technology these days.

"Tablets are now mainstream products and hardware innovation is increasingly difficult. With branded Android tablets available for less than $150, the PC market has never been so good for consumers, who are voting with their wallets," he said.

The company also claims the market for full-sized tablets has stalled, evidenced by the fact Apple has found it harder to sell its larger iPads in recent quarters, added Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys.

"Microsoft's inventory issues with the Surface have been well-publicised," he said. "Heavily discounted Surface RTs will fly off the shelves. Expect prices to continue to fall, though, as the starting price of $350 is still too expensive to spark an HP TouchPad-style buying frenzy."

Conversely, its competitors Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer all experienced annual growth of more than 200 per cent, thanks in part to the demand for smaller devices.

Lenovo experienced the largest year-on-year jump in tablet shipments (317 per cent), after shipping just 354,000 devices in Q2 2012, rising to nearly 1.5 million in 2013.

Samsung was the second best performer, having shipped 7.3 million tablets in Q2 2013 (up from 1.87 million in Q2 2012). Its market share has also increased from 7.8 per cent to 21.6 per cent in that time.

Canalys predicts devices sporting the Android operating system will increase their share over the coming quarters, despite not having quite so many tablet-optimised apps available for users as iOS does.

"Developers can and will quickly switch their priorities as different opportunities evolve and improve, "said Tim Shepherd, senior analyst at Canalys.

"We expect to see a substantial increase in the quantity, as well as the quality, of apps built or optimised for Android tablets over the next 12 months, as Google brings more attention to them through improvements to the Play store, and as the addressable base of devices continues to soar," he concluded.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.