Continued growth of the Apple iPad and the Android platform have left analysts wondering whether Microsoft's Windows RT has a future in the tablet space.
According to data from research firm IDC, Redmond was able to gain little traction over the last year as Apple, Samsung and Asus were able to build on their leads in the market and rack up record sales.
The study found that Apple saw sales grow by some 65.3 percent on the year, shipping 19.5 million devices in the quarter. Despite this, though, the company's overall share of the market fell from 58 percent to 39.6 percent.
Much of that drop was attributed to gains made by Android vendors, namely Samsung and Asus. The study found that Samsung rode a 282 percent increase in sales to claim a 17.9 percent cut of the tablet market. Asus, meanwhile, grew its share of the market by 350 percent on the year, claiming a 5.5 percent share of the market, good for third overall.
Amazon was fourth, reeling in 3.7 percent of the market with some 1.8 million shipped units on its Kindle tablet line. Fifth on the list was Microsoft, which shipped less than a million units on the quarter and claimed just 1.8 percent of the total tablet market.
The small share of the market comes despite a marketing blitz by Microsoft to establish its Windows RT tablet platform in the market. The company debuted the platform last year as part of its Windows 8 rollout. After its release, executive acknowledged 'modest' sales for the Surface tablet, a figure which appears to be verified by IDC's numbers.
The slow sales, combined with the healthy gains made by the market leaders in iOS and Android, have lead industry watchers to ponder whether Microsoft's venture into the tablet market will hold up in the coming years.
IDC analyst Ryan Reith told V3 that the coming years could prove critical for Microsoft and its efforts to establish itself in the tablet space.
"I think Microsoft is in this for the long haul, but whether or not RT will exist in a few years is still to be determined," Reith explained. "We haven't called the demise of the platform yet, but having the two versions co-exist doesn't make much sense."
Redmond has a history of pushing its products through early setbacks. Brands such as Internet Explorer and Xbox were able to overcome early adversity and establish themselves in the market following prolonged pushes from Microsoft.
In the case of Windows RT, however, the company could find itself to be prolonging its own misery. IDC analyst Tom Mainelli told V3 that even with its tepid reception, Microsoft is unlikely to give up on its big investment in both Windows 8 and Surface any time soon.
"I fully believe there will be additional Windows 8 Surface products, Microsoft has denied it, but I think we can expect a Surface phone at some point," Mainelli said.
"Microsoft wants to keep serving its partners, but long term it sees the world becoming at least three major platforms."
Whether this proves to be enough to catch up on the enormous leads made by Apple and Samsung remains to be seen, though.
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