By Noel Randewich
SAN FRANCISCO, March 12 Shipments of tablets
running Google Inc's Android will overtake the iPad
this year for the first time, research house IDC predicted on
Tuesday, as Apple Inc cedes more mobile market share to
hard-charging rivals around the globe.
A growing variety of smaller and cheaper Android tablets
from Google to Amazon.com Inc will catch on this year with more
consumers and chip away at Apple's dominance since the first
iPad launched in 2010, International Data Corp said.
iPad and iPhone shipments are expected to keep growing at
enviable rates, but arch-rival Samsung Electronics
and others have hurt Apple with a combination of savvy
marketing, greater variety and rapid technology adoption.
On Thursday, Samsung takes the wraps off the fourth
generation of its flagship Galaxy, the smartphone that helped
the South Korean giant knock the iPhone off its top ranking for
part of last year.
A growing perception that the company co-founded by Steve
Jobs may be losing its competitive edge has weighed on its
shares, which have lost more than a third of their value since
hitting a high in September.
IPHONE COULD GO WAY OF BLACKBERRY?
In the latest criticism from Wall Street, Jefferies analyst
Peter Misek on Tuesday compared Apple to Blackberry
saying the iPhone is now on the defensive against Samsung's
"Historically when handset makers fall out of favor (e.g.,
the Razr, Blackberry, HTC) they fall faster/further than
expected," Misek said.
Now, IDC says Apple may begin losing some its lead on
tablets as well, though it remains the top seller among
iPad shipments are expected to account for 46 percent of the
tablet market in 2013, down from 51 percent last year, IDC said.
Devices running Android are expected to grow their market share
to 49 percent this year from 42 percent last year.
Google's Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon.com Inc's
Kindle, which uses its own customization of Android, made major
inroads with consumers last year. In November, Apple launched
its own foray into smaller-sized tablets with the iPad mini.
"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8
inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect
smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond," IDC
said in a press release.
APPLE REVS GROWTH SLOWS
Last month, Hewlett-Packard Co announced the launch
of the Slate 7 tablet powered by Android, a centerpiece of that
company's effort to expand from the shrinking personal market
Apple is expected to grow its revenue by $26 billion in its
fiscal year ending in September, just over half of the $48
billion increase in revenue it saw the year before, according to
Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
A group of suppliers that depend on Apple for more than half
of their business saw its sales slump 31 percent in February
compared to January, according to Topeka Capital Markets analyst
Brian White, who does not identify the companies in the group.
Shares of Cirrus Logic, which gets three quarters
of its revenue from selling audio chips to Apple, have fallen 23
percent this year, including a 2.89 percent drop on Tuesday.
Many component suppliers to Apple, like Qualcomm
and Toshiba, also do significant business with Android
"The open ecosystem at Android has allowed there to be more
suppliers. As a chip guy, I always want to have as many irons in
the fire as possible because the ride at the top tends to only
last five years," said RBC analyst Doug Freedman.
Underscoring the increasing opportunity in mobile for Apple
and its competitors, IDC also raised its 2013 tablet shipment
forecast to 190.9 million units, up from its previous forecast
of 172.4 million units.
Last year, global tablet shipments grew to 128.3 million
units, up from 72 million in 2011, according to IDC.
In the smartphone market, which reached 545 million units
shipped last year, Apple has already fallen behind Samsung.
Samsung is likely to sell 290 million smartphones this year,
up 35 percent from 2012, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple's smartphone sales are projected to reach 180 million this
year, up 33 percent.
IDC said tablets running Microsoft's Windows 8
platform would grow their market share from 1 percent last year
to 7.4 percent in 2017.
Tablets running the Windows RT operating system, which is
not compatible with older software that runs on Windows, will
see their market share stay below 3 percent through 2017, IDC
"Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and
long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better
served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8," IDC