Apple is its Own Biggest Competitor in the Tablet Market

Apple’s most ardent tablet competitor during the fourth quarter wasn’t Amazon’s newly released Kindle Fire, or RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab. It was, in fact, Apple’s own iPhone 4S that impacted iPad sales.

The company shipped a whopping 15.4 million iPads and iPad 2s during the last months of 2011, which was a 39 percent increase from the 11.1 million it shipped during the third quarter, but its share in the global media tablet market dropped to 57 percent, down from the 64 percent it held in the third quarter.

That 15.4 million number, while impressive, was actually short of expected sales. Apple customers ended up spending their money elsewhere, but it wasn’t the Kindle Fire that soaked up that extra revenue – it was the iPhone 4S. The release of the iPhone 4S in October had more of an impact on the iPad than sales of the Kindle Fire and other tablets.

Of course, that’s not to say the Kindle Fire had no effect on iPad sales. Amazon managed to sell approximately 3.9 million of its tablets in the fourth quarter, which snagged the company a 14.3 percent share of the tablet market, and earned it the honor of becoming the world’s second largest tablet shipper during the fourth quarter of 2011.

In total, Apple shipped 40.5 million iPads and iPad 2s in 2011, compared to the 15.1 million it shipped in 2010. This gave it a 62 percent share of the tablet market for the entire year, while Samsung came in second place with a nine percent total share, and Amazon came in third with six percent of the total yearly tablet market share.

What’s in store for 2012? Well, IHS iSuppli predicts that Apple will reclaim its lost market share when the iPad 3 begins shipping, during the second quarter of 2012. Strong sales of the iPad 3 are expected, thanks to its increased resolution, enhanced processor, and better battery life.

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