The tablet market is not all about the iPad. Not really. But the latest numbers from IDC make it look that way on paper.
Despite the rise of competing Android tablets, Apple's iPad had a record-setting quarter ended June 2012. That drove up the entire tablet market, according to new IDC data.
Specifically, IDC estimates worldwide tablet shipments for the second quarter of 2012 at 25 million units. That is up from 18.7 million in the first quarter and represents a 33.6 percent quarter-over-quarter increase. Those figures point to a 66.2 percent year-over-year growth rate.
Breaking iPad Records
"Apple built upon its strong March iPad launch and ended the quarter with its best-ever shipment total for the iPad, outrunning even the impressive shipment record it set in the fourth quarter of last year," said Tom Mainelli, research director in IDC's Mobile Connected Devices group.
"The vast majority of consumers continue to favor the iPad over competitors, and Apple is seeing increasingly strong interest in the device from vertical markets -- especially education. While iPad shipment totals are beginning to slow a bit in mature markets where the device saw early traction, growth in other regions is clearly more than making up the difference."
Altogether, Apple shipped 17 million iPads in the second quarter, up from 11.8 million units in the first quarter and well above its previous record of 15.4 million in fourth quarter of 2011. But, again, it's not all about Apple.
Apple's Secret Sauce
"Going forward we are going to see a slew of Windows 8 tablets coming from Microsoft itself with Surface and many of its licensees," said Avi Greengart, an analyst at Current Analysis. "So we may see additional diversity but there's no question that as of right now you have to characterize it as an iPad market, not a tablet market."
Greengart reminded us that Apple has a fantastic product that was first out of the gate with apps from the get-go. What's more, Apple was the first to realize that a smartphone operating system would make a better tablet than a full desktop OS. Microsoft has responded by turning its desktop operating system into a mobile operating system for the future.
"With the iPad, Apple was building on the success of the iPhone, which was building on the success of the iPod," Greengart said. "Apple has been very methodical about building up its capabilities and moving from market to market, with starting out in music, then phones, and now mobile computing."
Beyond the iPad
IDC reports that Apple wasn't the only tablet-maker to experience solid growth in the second quarter. Four of the top five worldwide vendors saw their shipments increase year-over-year. Samsung experienced exceptional growth, earning second place with 2.4 million units shipped, up from 1.1 million units a year ago. Amazon rebounded from a sluggish first quarter to post shipments of 1.2 million units.
Meanwhile, Asus shipped 855,454 units, more than doubling its total of 397,048 units a year ago. Only fifth-placed Acer saw its year-over-year numbers decline, as it shipped 385,458 units this quarter, down from 629,222 units a year ago. Of course, the Google/Asus co-branded Nexus 7 sales aren't reflected in these totals because the product officially began shipping into the channel in the third quarter of 2012.