SAN FRANCISCOóMedia tablet sales surged a whopping 142 percent in the first quarter compared with the first quarter of 2012, according to market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC).
According to preliminary data from IDC's worldwide tablet tracker report, tablet shipments reached 49.2 million units in the first quarter, up from about 20 million units in the first quarter of 2012. First quarter tablet shipments surpassed the total from the entire first half of last year, IDC said.
The robust first quarter growth was fueled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices, IDC said, adding that tablet growth shows no sign of slowing.
Apple outperformed IDC's most recent projections for the quarter, shipping 19.5 million units compared to a forecast of 18.7 million units, the firm said. Apple, which historically has experienced a steep drop off in first quarter shipments following strong holiday sales in the fourth quarter, saw some smoothing of that seasonality this year, at least in part because it launched the iPad 4 in the fourth quarter, IDC said.
Samsung, the No. 2 supplier of tablets, also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments over the fourth quarter as more of the company's smaller-sized tablets began to gain traction in the market, IDC said. Samsung has also used its recent Android smartphone growth to help bring its tablet product line into new markets and channels, IDC said.
"Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple," said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC, in a statement.
"By moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March," Mainelli said.
A question and comment for Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC
-- Does you table includes Chna's white-box tables, especially Allwinner, Rockchip and Actions tablet units. My impression is that they are not counted hence your tablet units are underestimated by about 1/3
-- Microsoft Surface is not a tablet - it is a "hybrid" that is - it is a new form factor of a notebook
It would be great if you could comment and clarify and thank you for otherwise excellent industry data