Apple Maintains Top Mobile PC Share Position: NPD Group

Sales of tablet PCs give Apple a big boost, but newcomers Amazon and Barnes & Noble plant their flags in the market, too.

Apple shipped nearly 23.4 million mobile PCs in the fourth quarter of 2011; the 128 percent year-over-year increase brings its total for the year to more than 62.8 million mobile PCs, up 132 percent, according to preliminary results from the latest NPD "DisplaySearch Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report."

Nearly 80 percent of Apple€™s mobile PC shipments were iPads. More than 18.7 million iPads shipped in the quarter. The 156 percent year-over-year rise brings the shipment total for the year to 48.4 million units, up 183 percent.

According to the report, overall mobile PC shipments grew 12 percent quarter-over-quarter and 44 percent year-over-year. Fourth-quarter mobile PC shipments reached 88 million units, driven by continuing strong demand for tablets, NPD research said. Tablet PC shipment growth was 42 percent quarter-over-quarter and 210 percent year-over-year, reaching 31.7 million units in the fourth quarter. Notebook PC shipments were flat quarter-over-quarter but up nearly 11 percent year-over-year, reaching 56.3 million units. As the company said it expected, consumer mobile PC adoption was focused on tablets, holding up demand in notebooks.

In the tablet PC market, Apple continued its strong growth across all its regions, capturing 59.1 percent share in the fourth quarter. Newcomers Amazon and Barnes & Noble firmly planted their flags in the market, securing the second and fifth positions, respectively€”Amazon with 16.7 percent share and Barnes & Noble with 3.5 percent. Both brands focused on North America in their market entries. Samsung improved in all its key markets, particularly Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), helping it to reach 0.67 percent market share. Asus continued its strong results in North America, EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region as it took 4.6 percent share in the fourth quarter.

€œMobile PC brands read the writing on the wall in the fourth quarter,€ said Richard Shim, NPD DisplaySearch senior analyst. €œConsumer demand for notebooks was expected to be weak following modest back-to-school results, especially with the expected launch of Windows 8 on the horizon, and increasing interest in tablet PCs. As a result, brands focused their typical holiday price cuts on tablets to boost demand.€

Shim said Apple€™s 26.6 percent fourth-quarter share is largely due to its dominant position in tablet PCs, which propelled it to nearly three times the shipments of HP. The other brands in the top five market share rankings relied almost exclusively on notebook PC shipments to establish their positions. HP maintained the top notebook PC ranking with a 15.5 percent share, although it lost some of its lead, as shipments into North America, China, Latin America, and the Asia-Pacific region faltered.

Dell and Acer essentially tied for second place, with 11.8 percent each. Dell had strong results in the EMEA market, while Acer continued to struggle in the notebook PC market. Lenovo continued to build on momentum started early this year with strong growth in China and the Asia-Pacific region, with a dip in North America, and maintained its No. 4 position in notebook PCs, gaining some share in the fourth quarter. Apple leapfrogged over Asus and Toshiba to capture fifth place with 8.3 percent market share.