Despite the alarm bells being sounded due to the growing clout of large screen smartphones, the tablet segment seems to be maintaining its strong growth the world over. Preliminary data from the International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker shows global tablet shipments grew to 76.9 million units in the fourth quarter of 2013. That is a 62.4% growth over the previous quarter and 28.2% growth over the same period a year ago. However, these figures are down compared to the 87.1% year-over-year rates of the same quarter a year ago.
For 2013, worldwide tablet shipments totaled 217.1 million units, which is up from 144.2 million units for the full year 2012 and represents a year-over-year growth rate of 50.6%.
"It's becoming increasingly clear that markets such as the US are reaching high levels of consumer saturation and while emerging markets continue to show strong growth this has not been enough to sustain the dramatic worldwide growth rates of years past," said Tom Mainelli, Research Director,Tablets, at IDC. "We expect commercial purchases of tablets to continue to accelerate in mature markets, but softness in the consumer segment—brought about by high penetration rates and increased competition for the consumer dollar—point to a more challenging environment for tablets in 2014 and beyond."
Apple once again led the worldwide market for tablets, shipping 26 million units during the quarter, up from 14.1 million the previous quarter and 22.9 million in 4Q12. While the quarter represented the company's most successful on record, its year-over-year growth of 13.5% was well below the industry average, the IDC report said. Samsung retained its second-place spot on the strength of a wide portfolio of products and increased carrier support in markets like the US, grabbing an 18.8% share worldwide. That's down slightly from 18.9% the previous quarter, but up significantly from its 13% share a year ago. Rounding out the top five were Amazon (7.6%), ASUS (5.1%), and Lenovo (4.4%).
Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said Lenovo's strength in emerging markets, and its increased market share in adjoining markets such as PCs and smartphones, makes it well positioned to see additional tablet gains in 2014.