(By R. Chandrasekaran) Technology bellwether Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) remained the crowning glory in media tablets space for the first quarter. However, the disappointment came from Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) android witnessing a sharp fall in shipments.
In fact, it was Apple's media tablets that not only held together but also offset some of the slump recorded in android-based media tablets. This resulted in total media tablets shipments falling shy of predictions. It does appear that Apple's reasoning of iPad as an all purpose media tablet and not a mere content consumption device has reached consumers well. Their decision to price iPad 2 lower following its new iPad launch in March also helped them drive market share up.
In the March quarter, shipments of media tablets reached 17.4 million units, data from International Data Corp. (IDC) indicates. This is 1.2 million units lower than the research firm's expectations.
Global media tablet shipments were predicted to slow down by minus 34 percent from the 28.2 million units recorded in the December 2011 quarter. However, the actual drop was higher at minus 38.4 percent. Although, on a year-on-year basis, the media tablets shipment represented 120 percent upside from 7.9 million units.
Though Apple witnessed 11.8 million iPads shipment, it was 23.4 percent lower than 15.4 million units recorded in the 2011 fourth quarter. However, its share grew significantly to 68 percent from 54.7 percent in the same period.
Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN) that stormed the market in December quarter and grabbed 16.8 percent share is poorly placed with just a little over 4 percent share in the first quarter. This has dragged them to third position, while Samsung regained the second slot by taking advantage of the online retailer's weakness. Lenova surged to the fourth spot, and Barnes & Noble took the fifth position.
Though shipments of Android witnessed a sharp fall in the March quarter, IDC believes that Samsung and Lenovo are starting to gain traction with their new age android products in the market place. This is expected to allow android to rebound in the June quarter and beyond. This optimism stems from the fact that mainstream android vendors are beginning to understand how Amazon and Barnes & Noble took advantage early on and fought with Apple's iPad. This would allow more vendors to offer products that are relatively priced lower.
After a down first quarter, Amazon will not likely to remain quiet and is predicted to come out with a large screen device at an attractive price. Similarly, Google is seen to launch a tablet to take on Amazon's Kindle Fire. This is expected to provide consumers with a better experience as Google's version of Android will have full run, unlike Amazon's forked version that removes Google from the picture.
The market conditions will provide a new phase in the media tablet space during the second half of 2012 with competition reaching its peak. However, Apple is predicted to occupy the top slot and the fight will be second and beyond.