Apple — the company that pioneered the tablet product category when it released the first iPad in 2010 — will likely soon lose its tablet market crown. It may not happen this quarter, or even next year, but eventually the iPad maker will surrender its tablet market dominance to one of its Android-based competitors, most likely Samsung. Fortunately for Apple, there are several important reasons why this inevitable market shift won’t matter. According to the latest data from market research firm IDC, Apple continued to be the top tablet vendor in the world during the third quarter of 2014, with a 22.8% share. However, Apple’s worldwide tablet market share also continued to shrink, slipping from the 29.2% share it held in the year-ago quarter. Apple is also selling fewer total iPads, with shipments dropping from 14.1 million units in the year-ago quarter to 12.3 million units this year. Meanwhile, second-ranked Samsung saw its market share drop slightly from 19.3% in the year-ago quarter to 18.3% in the third quarter of this year, despite increasing its total shipments from 9.3 million units to 9.9 million units during the same time period. So why is Apple’s market share falling so dramatically despite a relatively small drop in total unit shipments? In IDC’s data, the answer lies in the mysterious “Others” category of tablet vendors. This category of tablet makers saw the biggest increase in total units shipped, going from 18.1 million units in the year-ago quarter to 22.5 million units this year. This boosted the “Others” category’s market share to 41.8% this year, from 37.4% in the year-ago quarter. According to IDC, the “Others” category consists mostly of smaller companies that make “sub-$100” tablets. Although this flood of low-cost devices has helped drive Apple’s overall market share down, they cannot be considered true competitors to Apple’s high-end and high-margin iPads.
Want more great content like this? Sign up here to receive the best of Cheat Sheet delivered daily. No spam; just tailored content straight to your inbox.