IDC: Apple within spitting distance of Samsung in smart connected devices

Apple devices 001 (iPad, iPhone 5, MacBook Air)

Research firm IDC today shared an interesting data point which again reminds us that the mobile game has pretty much come down to the epic fight for supremacy between California-based Apple and Seoul-headquartered Samsung group. Combined shipments of desktop and notebook PCs, tablets and smartphones rose to 378 million units in the fourth quarter of 2012, accounting for $168 billion in quarterly sales.

One particular data point has piqued our interest: thanks to the (sarcasm alert) “disappointing” iPhone 5 and “overpriced” iPad mini, Apple closed the gap with the South Korean giant, having accounted for a 20.3 percent unit share versus 21.2 percent for its rival.

And, of course, when you narrow down the analysis to just revenues, Apple’s high-margin business has allowed the company to pull in the market-leading 30.7 percent revenue versus 20.4 percent revenue share for Samsung.

In other words, nearly one out of every three dollars spent on desktop/notebook PCs, smartphones and tablets in Q4 2012 went to Apple, with Samsung taking one out of each five bucks…

According to IDC, global shipments of smart connected devices in 2012 rose 29.1 percent versus 2011, largely thanks to a whopping 78.4 percent growth in the tablet category where Apple’s iPad is a market leader.

Tablet shipments for the calendar 2012 surpassed 128 million units, with total smart connected device shipments (notebook/desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones) hitting one billion units with a value of $576.9 billion.

IDC connected mobile devices

Meanwhile, the good ol’ PC continues on a downward spiral.

The research firm, best-known for making wild predictions a few years into the future, projects tablet shipments to surpass desktop PCs in 2013 and portable PCs in 2014.

Given the iPad’s tablet lead, Apple stands to benefit the most should IDC’s estimates prove realistic. Globally, IDC expects PC desktop shipments to drop by 4.3 percent this year, with the notebook category maintaing a flat growth of 0.9 percent.

In peering into its crystal ball, IDC has concluded that the worldwide smart connected device market will reach 2.2 billion units shipped by 2017 for an astounding $814.3 billion in revenue, mostly driven by “a huge growth potential in the emerging markets” such as India and China.

Contrast this to tablets that wil reach a new high of 190 million units in 2013 for a healthy annual growth of 48.7 percent. The smartphone market is slowing and will grow an estimated 27.2 percent to 918.5 million units this year.

Another noteworthy factoid to glean form the report: 378 million devices shipped in the holiday quarter of 2012 alone, with a combined worth of more than $168 billion. This means that Apple’s IDC-estimated 30.7 percent revenue share translates into a cool $51.58 billion worth of MacBooks, iPhones and iPads sold in Q4 2012.

Notably, Apple’s own earnings cite $54.5 billion in fourth-quarter sales.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noted today that we shouldn’t expect any major new product launches from Apple until June’s iPhone 5S introduction (no new iPad for you this Spring).

In turn, he says, Apple’s second-quarter revenue will fall short of Wall Street’s projections.

We also reported yesterday that investors are expecting a record revenue for Apple’s June quarter, but also a lower income due to lower margins from all the new products Apple introduced in the past six months.