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Tablet shipments take a fall; import ban lifted

Mobility

Worldwide tablet shipment growth has slowed down considerably in the second quarter this year, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker.

Worldwide tablet shipments finally experienced a sequential decline as total volumes fell -9.7 per cent from Q1. However, the 45.1 million units shipped in the second quarter was up 59.6 per cent from the same quarter in 2012, when tablet vendors shipped 28.3 million devices.

Lacking a new product launch in March to help spur shipments, Apple’s iPad saw a lower-than-predicted shipment total of 14.6 million units for the quarter, down from 19.5 million in Q1. In years past, Apple has launched a new tablet heading into the second quarter, which resulted in strong quarter-over-quarter growth. Now, Apple is expected to launch new tablet products in the second half of the year, a move that better positions it to compete during the holiday season.

Meanwhile, the other two vendors in the top three also saw a decline in their unit shipments during the quarter. Second-place Samsung shipped 8.1 million units, down from 8.6 million in the first quarter of 2013, although up significantly from the 2.1 million units shipped in 2Q12. And third-place Asus shipped a total of 2.0 million units in 2Q13, down from 2.6 million in in the first quarter.

“A new iPad launch always piques consumer interest in the tablet category and traditionally that has helped both Apple and its competitors,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, tablets at IDC. “With no new iPads, the market slowed for many vendors, and that’s likely to continue into the third quarter. However, by the fourth quarter we expect new products from Apple, Amazon, and others to drive impressive growth in the market.”

Not all vendors experienced a slowdown during the quarter. PC stalwarts Lenovo and Acer both re-entered the top five this quarter. Lenovo continued to make headway into the world of mobility and for the first time had shipments surpass the million unit mark in a quarter, shipping a total of 1.5 million devices. This was up 313.9 per cent from a year ago and enough to capture 3.3 per cent market share. Rounding out the top five was Acer, which shipped 1.4 million tablets in Q2 for 247.9 per cent year-over-year growth and an increase of 35.4 per cent over the first quarter of 2013.

“The tablet market is still evolving and vendors can rise and fall quickly as a result,” said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s mobility tracker programs. “Apple aside, the remaining vendors are still very much figuring out which platform strategy will be successful over the long run. To date, Android has been far more successful than the Windows 8 platform. However, Microsoft-fueled products are starting to make notable progress into the market.”

Import ban lifted

Fueling the tablet wars this week was U.S. President Barack Obama who vetoed a ban on imports of some Apple iPads and older iPhones mostly model 4. Obama’s veto sent shockwaves all the way to South Korea, where Apple’s top rival in tablets Samsung was hoping for the ban to stick.

According to Michael Froman, the U.S. Government’s trade representative, President Obama overruled a decision made by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) this past June, which put a ban on imports of iPhone 4 smartphones and some other older iPad 2s.

Back in June the ITC made a ruling that Chinese-manufactured Apple devices violated a patent held by Samsung and therefore should not be allowed to be imported into the U.S. The Obama government then had 60 days to uphold the ITC’s ruling and did not.

President Obama has gone on record that he is against import bans on the basis of the type of patent at issue in the Samsung case.

This issue is just the latest in the battle between Samsung and Apple. Just last year another U.S. federal court ruled in favour of Apple and charged Samsung to pay Apple $1 billion in damages for patent infringement. In that case, however, the judge did not issue an import ban on Samsung products.