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Android tablet sales plummet as Apple extends lead

03 May 2012

Sales of Android tablets dropped sharply in the first quarter of the year as Apple strengthened its position in the market, say analysts.

Research firm IDC reported that the drop in tablet sales following the holiday season was even sharper than expected, declining by some 38.4 per cent in the first quarter of 2012. Total sales were pegged at 17.4 million units on the quarter, down from Q4 numbers of 28.2.

Much of the drop was credited to slower than expected sales for Android tablets.

Researchers found that in the wake of the holiday buying season, Android vendors failed to keep pace with Apple and its marketing strategies.

Amazon in particular was hit hard in the quarter as the company's market share fell to four per cent and was surpassed by Samsung.

Apple, meanwhile, continued to expand its lead in the market, claiming a 68 per cent share up from just 54.7 per cent last quarter.

"Apple's move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers as well as educational and commercial buyers," noted IDC mobile connected devices research director Tom Mainelli.

"And its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well."

The news is not all bad for Android tablet vendors, however. IDC noted that despite falling short of expectations, the Q1 sales were still a 120 per cent improvement over the numbers from the same period last year.

Additionally, analysts remain optimistic in their outlook for the upcoming crop of Android devices from Samsung and Lenovo, as well as expected tablet releases from Amazon and Google.

"It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Pandigital figured out early on," Mainelli said.

"Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points."

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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