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Tablet sales for 2013 grew 33 per cent to reach 227m

The worldwide PC market grew 18 per cent in the final quarter of 2013, due to a seasonal surge in tablet shipments, according to finding from research firm Canalys. It says tablet sales grew 65 per cent year-on-year to reach 76.3 million units, representing 48 per cent of the total PC market. Excluding tablets, PC shipments declined 7 per cent year-on-year with falls in all regions.

The findings are broadly in line with those of rival firm Strategy Analytics, which found that in Q4 2013 global tablet shipments reached 76.8 million units. It showed Android again exerting its dominance with a 62 per cent market share, while iOS came back from two quarters of share loss to take 34 per cent of the total market in Q4 (up 14 per cent from Q4 the previous year).

Canalys says Apple remained the PC market leader in Q4, shipping 30.9 million units to take a 20 per cent share of the market. It shipped 26.0 million iPads, which accounted for 84 per cent of its total shipments in Q4. Apple’s share of the overall tablet market increased sequentially from 27 per cent to 34 per cent (tallying with Strategy Analytics), thanks mainly to the launch of new product variants. However, Canalys says Apple will come under renewed pressure as the price of Android tablets continues to fall.

Most of Apple’s and Samsung’s shipments are to established markets, with around two thirds to EMEA and North America. Shipments to Latin America and Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China) were similar for both vendors. ‘

“Apple is focusing on China, where it has a 38 per cent share of the tablet market, but it does not reach competitive price points in other high-growth markets and risks missing out on future progress,” said Tim Coulling, Senior Analyst at Canalys. “Product innovation and competition in the Android camp will continue to accelerate. This gives good growth potential to smaller local players and those top-tier vendors willing to disrupt margins in the tablet space.”

A closer look at Strategy Analytics’ breakdown of sales [with alternative Canalys numbers in parentheses]. Samsung remains the leading Android tablet manufacturer, with 13.6m [14.5m] shipments in Q4 last year and an 18 per cent share of the market – up 81 per cent [90 per cent] on the same period the previous year.

Amazon shipped 4.6m units for a six per cent market share, up just four per cent year on year, with its Kindle Fire range. Asus shipped 3.6m units for a five per cent share of the market, up 13 per cent, thanks to its Google Nexus involvement.

Lenovo recorded the biggest year on year rise, up 275 per cent as its shipments rose to 3m thanks to its decision to start making low-margin Android tablets rather than the higher margin, but higher user cost, Windows tablets. Fellow PC manufacturer Acer also recorded strong growth, up 150 per cent year on year to reach 1m tablet sales.

“Lenovo still has the potential to grow its global notebook shipments and has emerged as a challenger in the tablet space,” said James Wang, analyst at Canalys. “Worldwide, Lenovo shipped three times as many tablets in Q4 as HP and Dell combined, or two and a half times when excluding China.”

But it was the OEM “white box” category that continued to fare best – with Strategy Analytics reporting a combined total of 18.4m shipments in Q4 for a 24 per cent market share, up six per cent year on year.

“Global total tablet shipments reached 76.8 million units in Q4 2013, up 20 per cent from 64 million units in Q4 2012,” said Peter King, Director of Tablets at Strategy Analytics, adding that on an annual basis, shipments for 2013 reached 227 million units, up 33 per cent from 2012.

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