October 22, 2013

Is Apple Losing The Tablet Wars?

Dennis O'Donnell

With Apple’s new iPad announcements today (and nearly every announcement), there will be very vocal group of critics calling the end of Apple and the death of innovation. Has Apple really lost its edge in innovation, or is its strangle-hold on the tablet market slipping? One statistic that is repeatedly brought up is that Apple’s market share of tablet sales have shrunk steadily since 2010: from 90% to now nearly 30%:

iPad Market Share

Instead of just adding another opinion related to “what today’s news means for Apple” – I want to share a few interesting data points. Be your own analyst:

Apple sells more iPads in 3 days than its largest competitor sells in 2 years

According to court documents, Samsung sold a combined 1.2 million of their tablets between the two-year period of 2010 and 2012 (Source). In 2012, Apple sold roughly 3 million units of its new iPad over opening weekend (Source). According to IDC, Samsung is Apple’s largest competitor for the Tablet market, with the 2nd largest market share.

Apple’s unit sales growth alone is higher than Samsung’s total annual sales

This one is a bit of a weird statistic, but I think significant. In 2011, Apple sold 40 million iPads, and in 2012, sold 58 million – they grew their sales by 18 million units. Samsung’s entire tablet sales for the year of 2012 were 17.4 million units. (Source: Compiled IDC market data)

Tablets are overtaking PC’s in the marketplace

Several analysts have been calling for tablets to replace the PC for years, but it seems the data is finally in: tablet sales are gaining momentum, and PC sales are shrinking. Anecdotally, I have witnessed a few people replacing their personal home computer with a tablet (I’ll just admit it – with an iPad). The data to support this can be found at IDC.

If tablet manufacturers were compared the same way PC manufacturers were in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Apple would be an unprecedented market leader, even at 30% market share

The big fuss right now is that Apple has slipped all the way from 90% market share down to nearly 30%. My question is – are we looking at the data correctly? If tablets are “the new PC”, I wanted to go back and look at historic PC market share data. In other words, if Apple’s tablet performance were compared to historic PC manufacturers’ performance in market share, how would it stack up? The answer is: they’d be unprecedented. Here it is:

PC Market Share

Obviously, most of this is historic data – but from our vantage point, Apple still maintains an unprecedented position in the tablet market. To be clear, we’re not saying “Apple products are the greatest”, or “Apple is the most innovative product company”. In a historical context, it appears Apple is firmly seated at #1 in the tablet market, and it would take serious momentum to de-throne them right now. That’s our take. What do you think? Share in the comments!

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