updated 07:50 pm EDT, Fri July 8, 2011
IDC breaks down tablet, e-reader markets for Q1
IDC in a study took apart the tablet and e-reader markets early this year. The tablet market saw an early 28 percent drop in the first quarter of 2011 to 7.2 million units. Just over 65 percent of those were iPads while the rest were dominated by Android's 34 percent and a small amount of Windows tablets. Most of the drop was pinned on Apple being constrained by supply, where iPad 2 backlight issues and a slow production ramp prevented it from delivering more.
Some of the difficulty for rivals came from their own strategic mistakes, analysts said. Motorola and Samsung put too much trust in their experiences as phone makers, making a bad assumption that customers would sign up for a carrier data plan. The Motorola Xoom has often been used as the poster child example, as Motorola's decision to tie the Android 3 tablet to Verizon not only put the minimum price at $800 but put pressure on customers to sign up for at least $20 a month for the optional data plan.
The company eventually addressed the mistake with a $599 (now $499) Wi-Fi Xoom, but only after Apple had released the iPad 2 and undermined Motorola on performance and price. Motorola shipped just 250,000 units, or not quite 3.5 percent of tablets in early 2011.
Tablets were still due to surge upwards and would even do better than they had before, IDC said: it bumped its projection for the whole year from 50.4 million to 53.5 million. Most of those are again expected to be Apple's.
In a surprise twist, Amazon lost its lead in e-readers. Barnes & Noble's Nook Color pushed the Kindle down to second place. IDC wouldn't provide data but was adamant that e-paper was now a liability, not an advantage, for an e-reader. The Android-based Nook won through its use of color, analysts said.
E-readers are expected to grow a healthy 24 percent in 2011 versus 2010, but the rate will leave them well behind the newer tablet category at 16.2 million readers of various kinds.
The changing of the guard may help explain Amazon's widely leaked decision to enter tablets itself with at least one Android device in or near September. Its formula has been one of the most successful in traditional books but has let Apple and Barnes & Noble take the subscription reading market through their ability to handle much more faithful magazine layouts and extras like audio, games, or video.