Taiwan's ASUS moved to No. 3 in tablet sales as the firm continued to see decent tablet shipment demand from the highly marketed Nexus 7 device, IDC said. But, with Google's I/O conference right around the corner and expectations of an imminent device refresh, the company will need to find a way to sustain its momentum, the firm said.
Amazon slipped to fourth in tablet sales in the fourth quarter, IDC said.
Microsoft entered the top 5 in tablet sales for the first time in the first quarter, IDC said. Shipments of its Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets combined for a total of nearly 900,000 units, IDC said.
The bulk of Microsoft's tablet shipments were its Surface Pro, which the company started shipping to the U.S. and Canada in February, IDC said. Beyond the Surface products, Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market, IDC said, with total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors of about 1.8 million units in the first quarter.
"Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market," said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's mobility tracker program. "However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed."
According to Reith, the tablet market is clearly moving toward smart 7- and 8-inch tablets, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. "If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond," Reith said.