iPad sales up 8M units in Q4, market share down 8 percent

New research shows number one tablet maker Apple shipped more iPads while also losing market share during the 2012 holiday fourth quarter. The company shipped nearly 23 million tablets during the period, a dramatic increase from the same time in 2011, when 15.1 million Apple tablets shipped.

At the same time, Apple’s overall share of the tablet market fell for the second quarter in a row, slipping to 43.6 percent from 46.4 percent during the third quarter of last year – and down from 51.7 percent a year ago, according to IDC.

Apple ended the year with 48.1 percent year-over-year growth while number two tablet rival Samsung saw its growth more than double. A combination of Android and Windows-based tablet sales helped push the South Korean firm’s share of the tablet market to 15.1 percent, up from 7.3 percent in 2011…

While the iPad mini and the iPad 4 boosted shipments of Apple’s tablets, the firm apparently lost market share for two consecutive quarters in 2012. By contrast, Samsung maintained its 15.1 percent market share for the last two quarter s of last year.

IDC global tablet shipments Q412

IDC pointed (via 9to5Mac) to “strong competition in the market” for Apple’s decline.

Although Kindle-maker Amazon does not release sales figures, IDC claims the company has the third largest tablet market share.

iPad mini (three-up, front, back, profile, white)

The online retail giant shipped six million tablets during the fourth quarter, up from 4.7 million a year ago for 27 percent year-over-year growth. Despite Amazon’s higher shipping, its market share fell to 11.5 percent from 15.9 percent during the same period in 2011.

Number 4 Asus had the largest yearly growth, registering a 402 percent increase in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Although the Google Nexus 7 tablet boosted Asus shipments from less than 0ne million units in 2011 to 3.1 million during the holidays, it was not enough to prevent the company’s tablet market share falling to 5.8 percent from 7.8 percent in the previous quarter.

Chromebook and woman holding Nexus 7

Bookseller Barnes & Noble was the only tablet maker to have negative growth during the fourth quarter, demand for the Nook dropping by more than 27 percent, the researcher announced Thursday.

In a dramatic turn of events, Nook shipments fell to just 1 million units during the holidays, sending its 4.6 percent market share of 2011 plummeting to only 1.9 percent of the market by the fourth quarter.

As for Microsoft, its Surface RT and Surface Pro “failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter,” IDC tablet research director Tom Mainelli said.

Surface (table, left angled, red cover)

Reaction to the Surface RT “was muted at best,” Mainelli added. To compete Microsoft needs to “quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices,” he said. As we’ve reported, the software giant has fought against low prices, hoping to retain PC-centered profits in the new tablet landscape.

Nothing better illustrates that changing landscape than the difference between PCs and tablets shipping. While PC shipments declined during the fourth quarter for the first time in five years, tablets saw a 75 percent jump to 52.5 million devices – up from 29.9 million in 2011.