Apple (AAPL) Shipped the Biggest Tablet Volumes Q1 2013, but Sales Went to Cheaper Samsung, Asus, Amazon

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Big numbers don't always translate to greatness, at least in the case of the shipments of tablets by Apple Inc in the first quarter of 2013.

Apple may have shipped a total of 19.5 million units in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the measly 8.8 million units of its toughest rival Samsung Electronics Co, but growth wise, the latter's shipments corresponded to a whopping 282.6 per cent year-on-year growth. Apple only grew a dismal 65.3 per cent.

Even Asus and Amazon outperformed Apple, growing at 350 per cent and 157 per cent, respectively. Actual volume of shipments were 2.7 and 1.8 million units, respectively.

Customer preferences for more diverse products are definitely getting in the way for Apple to fully corner majority of the market.

Case in point is Samsung which create smartphones and tablets products on a massive scale and in different sizes, Tom Mainelli, IDC analyst, said.

"That's what they're good at; they make one of everything and see what the market likes," Mr Mainelli told CNET.

Of course, companies also wouldn't go wrong offering cheaper alternative to customers.

"Apple's share is decreasing and they're ceding share to companies willing to sell tablets for $199, $99, or $79," Mr Mainelli said. "It was a major concession for them to go down to $329 for the iPad Mini."

Still, Apple still has a long way to go. Commercial markets such as businesses, government agencies, and the education sector have yet to get their hands full with Apple's smartphone and tablets. The US Department of Defense for an example has announced it will be ordering and using iPhones and iPads real soon, pending on the release of a security-related approval.

"You'll see Apple's commercial shipments continue to grow," Mr Mainelli said, "and there are still a lot more regions in the world to conquer."

The IDC had forecast Apple's shipments in the first quarter of 2013 would only hit 18.7 million units. 

"Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple," Mr Mainelli said. "In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March."

Overall, shipments of tablets in the first quarter of 2013 worldwide zoomed 142 per cent  from a year ago, according to IDC data.

As far as tablet operating systems are concerned, it was the Android that was the most shipped, at 27.8 million units. 

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