Tablet Market Still Growing Fast

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With the smartphone market beginning to saturate in larger western markets, manufacturers are increasingly looking to the tablet market for growth. With that in mind, market analysts this week have provided some mixed news for the industry going into the holiday buying season.

Market research firm IDC this week estimated that 47.6 million tablets were shipped worldwide during the third quarter of 2013. These shipment numbers missed the firm's prediction for the quarter, but still managed to grow the entire segment by around 37% over the same quarter in 2012. The third-quarter shipments also represent a 7% increase over the second quarter of this year.

Apple is still unquestionably the market leader, though the company did post a slight quarter-over-quarter reduction in shipments, down to 14.1 million in the third quarter from 14.6 during the second quarter. The yearly growth represented by Apple's third-quarter shipments, according to IDC, is less than 1%. Apple now represents less than 30% of the entire tablet market, while other tablet shipments have now eclipsed the company.

As other analysts have noted, Samsung is firmly entrenched in second place for tablet market share. IDC estimates the Korean manufacturer shipped 9.7 million tablets during the second quarter, representing more than 20% of the total market. Though other brands (particularly Chinese ones) are raising their shipment numbers rapidly, it appears the tablet (and smartphone, for that matter) market will continue to be a battle between Apple and Samsung for some time to come.

"With two 7.9-inch models starting at $299 and $399, and two 9.7-inch models starting at $399 and $499, Apple is taking steps to appeal to multiple segments," said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst at IDC. "While some undoubtedly hoped for more aggressive pricing from Apple, the current prices clearly reflect Apple's ongoing strategy to maintain its premium status. It's worth noting that Apple wasn't the only one to increase the price of its small-sized tablet during this product cycle: Both Google and Amazon increased the price of their newest 7-inch tablets from $199 to $229 to cover the higher costs associated with high resolution screens and better processors."

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