DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Media tablet shipments declined more than expected in the first quarter as a steep drop in Android-based tablet shipments offset a strong showing from Apple Inc. (AAPL), market researcher International Data Corp. said.
Total worldwide tablet shipments for the quarter reached 17.4 million units, about 1.2 million units below IDC's projections. The results were expected to be significantly lower than the record-breaking 28.2 million units shipped in the fourth quarter, due to a seasonal slowdown.
Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter. Maintaining its dominant position, the tech heavyweight grew its market share to 68% from 55%.
"While Apple will continue to sit comfortably on the top for now, the battle for the next several positions is going to be fierce," IDC's Bob O'Donnell said.
Samsung Electronics Co. (SSNHY, 005930.SE) was second place, followed by Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN), which grabbed second in the prior quarter but saw shipments decline sharply after that.
Lenovo Group Ltd. (LNVGY, 0992.HK) was in the fourth spot, followed by Barnes & Noble Inc. (BKS).
Though total Android shipments dropped sharply in the first quarter, IDC said companies such as Samsung and Lenovo were starting to gain traction in the market with their latest generation tablets. IDC said it expects the segment to rebound quickly as other vendors introduce new products.
IDC said Apple's peers are realizing that they need to set their prices considerably lower than the iPad to compete. Google Inc. (GOOG) is expected to enter the market with a tablet that should directly compete against Amazon's Kindle Fire on price, and Amazon is expected to come out with a new, larger-screen device.
IDC said it is still unclear what affect Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) new Windows 8 operating system will have on the market.
-By Ben Fox Rubin, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3108; firstname.lastname@example.org