TABLET COMPUTERS are still going strong, but sales were lower than expected in the third quarter, signalling a potential slowdown in growth.
18.1 million tablets were sold in the third quarter, 23.9 per cent higher than in the second quarter and 264.5 per cent higher than in the same period last year, but this was 5.8 per cent below the original forecast of 19.2 million units, according to a report by International Data Corporation (IDC).
Of course, there's only so long high growth can last before device penetration becomes an obstacle to further growth. If everyone has a tablet already they are less likely to keep buying more of the things, and thus growth will drop from high double or triple digits to low double or even single digits.
Apple continued to dominate the tablet market, with 11.1 million units shipped, compared to 9.3 million in the previous quarter. However, its market share dropped slightly from 63.3 per cent to 61.5 per cent due to the extra competition in the sector, according to IDC.
HP shipped 903,354 Touchpads in the third quarter, marking the beginning and end of its foray into the tablet market. The move helped it secure a five per cent market share, earning the third spot behind Samsung's 5.6 per cent market share for the Galaxy Tab. However, HP lost money on almost every Touchpad.
Despite the poorer than expected performance in the third quarter, IDC expects strong sales in the fourth quarter, primarily due to Christmas shopping. It has increased its forecast from 62.5 million units to 63.3 million, which should largely make up for the third quarter shortfall.
IDC also expects market share to shift considerably in the fourth quarter, with Android's 32.4 per cent market share growing to 40.3 per cent, thanks largely to Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, which IDC believes will sell well thanks to its low price tag. µ