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Samsung closes the gap on Apple in the tablet market

According to the latest market data, Samsung Electronics is quickly catching up with Apple Inc in the global tablet market, and has already overtaken its rival in emerging regions.
February 4, 2014
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The tablet figures for 2013 are in, courtesy of research firm Strategy Analytics, and it’s been another good year for Samsung. The number one smartphone manufacturer continues to close in on its main rival, Apple, in the tablet space.

For starters, Samsung’s marketshare grew two fold in 2013 to a very healthy 18.3 percent, with tablet shipments rising to 41.7 million for the year. Despite the strong growth in the company’s tablet market share, 18.3 percent still falls well short of Apple’s 33 percent share. Speaking of Apple, the company also saw an increase in sales over 2013, with shipments up 8.5 million units to 74.2 million iPads in total. However, Apple’s share of the tablet market actually shrunk by 5.7%, despite the increase in shipments, due to faster rates of growth in Android products. In other words, Samsung’s market share increased whilst Apple’s fell, so the gap is closing.

Microsoft’s Windows-powered tablets also gained some ground throughout 2013, although the company is still far behind the other two. Windows tablets shipped 11 million units and now account for 4.8 percent of the market, a significant rise from 2.5 million units in 2012.

It’s been a very good year for Android in general too, Google’s operating system continues its dominance over Apple and Microsoft, accounting for around a 62 percent share of the tablet market throughout 2013. In the fourth quarter of 2013, Android tablets secured a substantial 61.8 percent of the market, followed by Apple’s iPad with a 35.6 percent share, and Windows-powered models were left with just 3.3 percent. Q4 2013 was pretty representative of the year as a whole, below is a summary of each company’s marketshare and tablet shipments for 2013.

Tablet Marketshare 2013

Overall, another excellent year for Android, and particularly for Samsung, whilst Apple holds relatively steady, and Microsoft’s Windows platform flounders in last position. Business as usual then.

But the market news isn’t over yet, Strategy Analytics also published some interesting statistics that reveal in which regions each of the big two companies is dominating. Apple still holds the lion’s share of the market in strong economic regions such as North America, West Europe, and Asia-Pacific, as is represented by the company’s larger overall market share. However, Samsung is actually now leading Apple in the emerging economic regions.

Samsung Electronics is the largest seller of tablets in Latin America, Central-Eastern Europe, and Africa-Middle East, controlling a 22.8 percent, 25 percent and 18.3 percent of these markets respectively. Apple, on the other hand, falls slightly behind, with figures of 22.3 percent, 22.5 percent and 17.7 percent in each of the regions. It’s a close fight, but a rather substantial departure from the global picture.

2013 Tablet Marketshare Emerging Markets

Market analysts are attributing Apple’s slide in market presence to the company’s once-per-year tablet refresh cycle, and they believe that the company is therefore is failing to keep the pace with rivals Android and Microsoft. The other two companies are both pumping out multiple new devices each year, which is supposedly enticing Apple customers who are looking for new pieces of technology.

Strategy Analytics expects that the gap between Samsung and Apple will continue to narrow throughout 2014. The company states that Samsung is expected to ship 14.6 million tablets in the first quarter of 2014, which will take the company up to 23.3 percent of the global market. This will further narrow the gap with Apple, which is estimated to maintain a steady market share of around 33.2 percent.