Is Samsung Taking Apple’s Market Share?

When this question was first put to me, my immediate thought was (adopts Jerry Seinfeld’s terrible English accent) “not bloody likely”. However, after a bit of research, I was surprised to find that it is, in fact true.

In February, research firm IDC confirmed that Samsung had doubled its tablet PC market share in the last three months of 2012. According to BBC news:

“Samsung, which makes the Galaxy range of tablets, sold 7.9 million units, up from 2.2 million a year ago, taking its market share to 15.1%. Market-leader and iPad-maker Apple saw its share slide to 43.6% from 51.7%, despite also seeing a jump in sales. The two have been competing to get a greater share of the tablet PC market, seen as key to their overall growth”.

IDC attributes this rise in growth to a rise in tablet sales generally and to a greater interest in portable technology in recent years. IDC’s Tom Mainelli said,

“New product launches from the category’s top vendors, as well as new entrant Microsoft, led to a surge in consumer interest and very robust shipments totals during the holiday season.”

Microsoft’s Surface only garnered a lukewarm response, shifting 900,000 units overall in the last three months of 2012. IDC believed that the high prices of the Surface (and Windows 8 tablets generally, no doubt) had hurt sales overall. The mixed reviews can’t have helped much, either.

So why has Samsung done so well? The reviews weren’t universally great. Matt Egan of PC Adviser.com, gave the Galaxy Tab 2 a tepid 3.5/5, saying,

“A year ago we liked the Tab 10.1, and for the second generation the hardware specs remain broadly the same, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 has a much better operating system. All for £100 cheaper than it was. We love the bright screen, and adding SD support and 1080p video capture are both improvements. The problem is the competition: the Nexus 7 in particular has changed the game for Android tablets, and is a little more than half the price of the Tab (albeit with a smaller screen, half the storage and no front-facing camera). Meanwhile the iPad remains a cut above for £100 more than the Tab 2 10.1”.

Meanwhile, Dave Oliver of Wired.co.uk said,

“It’s a step down from the Galaxy Note 10.1, but the Galaxy Tab 2 offers some serious improvement to its predecessor as a good value Android tablet with Ice Cream Sandwich and a fine screen”.

However, the Galaxy Note series is faring somewhat better. Reviewing the Galaxy Note 10.1, Mr. Oliver was a little bit more enthused. Saying,

“The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a top-end tablet with a price to match (same as the iPad, basically). It can’t beat Apple’s sales behemoth on its screen, but in terms of versatility, with its writing interface and expandable memory, plus a good quality camera and very fast quad-core processor, it just about slots in at the top of the Android tablet tree making it a worthy challenger to iPad domination”.

And a worthy challenger it would appear to be, as the Galaxy Note seems to be the reason for the sudden sales spike, at least the most of it. However, Samsung have been putting out quality products for a long time now and that particular trend is showing no signs of stopping, or even slowing down.