Android Devices Push Tablet Market to Growth in Q3: IDC

With no new iPad product launches in the second or third quarter to drive volume, Apple experienced a quarter-over-quarter decline in shipments.

A host of Google Android-powered devices helped drive the worldwide tablet market to another quarter of strong growth this year, with research firm IDC reporting 7 percent growth over the previous quarter and 36.7 percent growth compared with the third quarter of 2012.

While that number came in a bit under the company's expectations, companies like Samsung—which improved 123 percent year over year—are showing there is still plenty of room for growth in the market.

Another Android tablet vendor, Lenovo, saw growth of 420 percent year over year, while market leader Apple saw growth of just 0.6 percent, despite being the market leader with 40.2 percent market share.

With no new iPad product launches in the second or third quarter to drive volume, Apple experienced a quarter-over-quarter decline in shipments from 14.6 million in 2Q13 to 14.1 million in 3Q13.

The report noted that despite Apple's slowing growth—caused in part by its decision in late 2012 to move its product launches from earlier in the year to the fourth quarter—with both the new iPad Air and the refreshed iPad mini with Retina display scheduled to ship this month, Apple should enjoy robust shipment growth during the fourth quarter.

"While some undoubtedly hoped for more aggressive pricing from Apple, the current prices clearly reflect Apple's ongoing strategy to maintain its premium status," Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst with IDC's Tablet Tracker, said in a statement. "It's worth noting that Apple wasn't the only one to increase the price of its small-sized tablet during this product cycle: Both Google and Amazon increased the price of their newest 7-inch tablets from $199 to $229 to cover the higher costs associated with high resolution screens and better processors."

Asus, which makes the Nexus 7 for Google, shipped about 3.5 million total units during the quarter for a third place finish and 7.4 percent market share. PC maker Lenovo moved into the No. 4 tablet spot with shipments of 2.3 million units and a 4.8 percent share. Acer rounded out the top five with 1.2 million units shipped and a 2.5 percent share.

Notably, vendors from outside the top five were responsible for over one-third of the shipments in the third quarter and represent a combination of major vendors (such as Amazon, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Dell) and lesser-known, so-called white box vendors that typically sell ultra-low cost Android devices at often unsustainably low margins.

"White box tablet shipments continue to constitute a fairly large percentage of the Android devices shipped into the market," Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC, said in a statement. "These low cost Android-based products make tablets available to a wider market of consumers, which is good. However, many use cheap parts and non Google-approved versions of Android that can result in an unsatisfactory customer experience, limited usage, and very little engagement with the ecosystem. Android's growth in tablets has been stunning to watch, but shipments alone won't guarantee long-term success."