Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, surpassed Samsung Electronics Co as the No. 2 seller of tablet computers last quarter, shipping 3.89 million units, according to research firm IHS Inc. Amazon’s share rose to 14 % in the period, up from zero in the third quarter, while Samsung slipped to 8 per cent from 11 per cent. In the fourth quarter, Apple Inc.’s share of tablets sold dropped to 57 %, from a more commanding 64 % in the same quarter a year ago.
Apple is still well ahead of the pack, having sold more than 15.4 million iPads in the holiday period, where as second-place Amazon sold 3.9 million. Samsung Electronics sold 2.1 million of its Android tablets, and Barnes and Noble Inc., sold 1.9 million Nook tablets.
Not long ago, analysts were fond of saying: “There’s no tablet market; there’s just an iPad market.” But sometimes the conventional wisdom has an expiration date.
Amazon rolled out its Kindle Fire tablet in November, aiming to undercut Apple’s iPad by selling a tablet at less than half the price. While the Fire may have taken some market share from the iPad, Apple faced even more competition from its own mobile device, the iPhone, said Rhoda Alexander, who manages tablet research for IHS.
Looking forward, analysts predict that Apple will reclaim its tablet market share when it starts to sell the next version of the iPad, which is expected in the second quarter of this year. As for Kindle Fire, the long-term viability of the product will hinge on the success of Amazon’s business gamble, “which depends on tablet sales driving substantial new online merchandise sales at Amazon.com in order to attain profitability”, Alexander said.