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Everyone wins in tablet market - except Microsoft


By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 at 15:05

Tablet makers posted another record quarter, according to IDC, but Microsoft's Surface RT failed to make much of a mark.

The analyst firm said the overall tablet market grew to 52.5m devices shipped last quarter, up by 75% on the same period last year - which IDC pinned on new products and falling prices.

Apple shipped 22.9m iPads, up by half from the previous year, but lost market share as rivals expanded the size of the market.

Samsung sales leapt from 2.2m in 2011 to 7.9m in the final quarter of 2012, while Amazon and Asus also posted big gains with their Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7.

Microsoft shipped 900,000 Surface RT tablets - just missing a spot in the top five, with US book store Barnes & Noble's pipping it by 100,000. In the quarter immediately after the launch of the Kindle Fire, Amazon shipped 4.7m devices; in the quarter the Nexus 7 launched, Asus shipped 2.4m - although that includes all the tablets it makes.

However it's worth noting the analyst tracks shipments to retailers, not actual sales to consumers. Microsoft has yet to confirm exactly how many Surface RT devices it's sold, or how many third-party tablets have sold.

"There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul," said Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. "However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company's Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best."

While the fourth quarter of last year did mark the arrival of Surface RT, Microsoft is only set to start selling the x86 version, Surface Windows 8 Pro, next week. However, it's sold at a premium to the RT version.

"We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices," Reith said. "In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs [average selling prices] on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes."

However, the stats suggest the market is continuing to grow, leaving plenty of room for new devices - whether they're running Windows 8 or not.

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User comments

Waiting for Surface Pro

When you started writing paragraph 6 why didn't you just delete this story. With missing direct to consumer sales figures from MS the story is rubbish as they only sell through one retailer for a very limited time. Twice I've been to John Lewis recently to have a look at Surface and both times I gave up because of the queue. Shame JL couldn't put more on display. Still from what I saw over shoulders I'll be getting the Pro next week.

By stephen_d_morris on 1 Feb 2013

More honesty needed

Shipments to Retailers are just like saying how many lemons are on display in a supermarket - it says nothing about how many consumers actually pay for or want. All a manufacturer needs do is ship a speculative load of units that might never be sold and claim huge sales figures to gain misleading headlines. Microsoft and Samsung are experts at this. At least Apple's figures are honest - real sales to real consumers.

By SwissMac on 1 Feb 2013

Real figures

The Surface RT only started shipping on October 26 2012, and its only been available from MS Stores and a limited number of other outlets.

Given that a lot of people are waiting for the Surface Pro, it's amazing it's selling as well as it is.

Is that a bit too balanced a comment, sorry?

By Stiggy on 1 Feb 2013

Wot they said....

Nobody has any real idea about the current state of either Win8 or WinRT let-alone the long-term future.

If everybody's sales numbers were more about objective numbers, and less about corporate willy-waving, then we might have an idea. They aren't, we don't.

Having said that, if I were MS\MS's partners I'd seriously be looking at the 7" Tablet format.

I bought 'er indoors a Nexus 7 for XMAS and it's a beautiful, handy little gadget and at £199 from PCW, a steal.....

Having missed the 10" Tablet boat MS & Co. need to get into new formats ASAP.

You don't need a Weatherman to know which way this particular wind is blowing. The Google 'Nexus' products are a pretty strong indicator, especially when you factor Motorola into the equation.

By wittgenfrog on 4 Feb 2013

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