Tablet sales may not be doing as well as everyone thought, according to data published by the International Data Corporation (IDC). Global media tablet sales fell by 28% to 7.2 million units in the first quarter of 2011, IDC announced Friday. Time to pack our bags and give the tablet industry the ole heave-ho? Not quite. Despite the first quarter decline, IDC is raising its estimate for the number of tablets sold in 2011 to 53.5 million units, up from 50.4 million units.
So what dark, insidious harbinger-of-doom is behind the lag in tablet sales in Q1? Just your average seasonal lull. With Q4 being the big buying season, what with all the holidays, it naturally stands to reason that there would be some drop-off in Q1. That said, IDC notes that that number still falls well below expectations. Even Apple saw far fewer shipments than anticipated, selling 4.2 million iPads rather than the 6-8 million analysts anticipated.
Nevertheless, IDC believes tablets will do well overall this year. While IDC expects tablet sales to reach 53.5 million unis this year, Merrill Lynch estimates that Apple will sell some 26 million iPads in 2011 (IHS Suppli puts that number at 39.6 million).
Interestingly, just like the smartphone OS market, Android is creeping up on Apple to claim 34% of the total tablets sold in Q1 2011, an increase of 8.2 percentage points over the previous quarter. So while tablet sales may have drooped in Q1, Android is still inching its way up in market share.
"Like the PC market, Media Tablets had a bit of a challenging quarter in Q1, as concerns about general macroeconomic issues and the post-holiday letdown took a toll on demand," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC’s VP of Clients and Displays. "We expect the rest of the year to be much stronger, but we believe vendors who continue to focus on the telco channel for distribution will face serious challenges."
…Like Samsung and Motorola.
Like tablets, e-readers took a seasonal hit, dropping to 3.3 million units shipped in Q1. But e-readers are still doing well with 105% year-over-year growth. The most successful reader, according to IDC, was the Nook Color, which put Barnes & Noble in the lead in the e-reader market for the first time, knocking Amazon to number two.
IDC anticipates global e-reader sales to reach 16.2 million units in 2011, representing a 24% increase over 2010.
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