Apple, Samsung Battle for Smart Device Market Share: IDC

Apple and Samsung lead a growing market for tablets and smartphones that is taking market share away from notebooks and desktop PCs, an IDC report finds.

In between strings of lawsuits accusing each other of patent infringement, consumer technology titans Samsung and Apple are locked in a heated battle for supremacy in the worldwide market for mobile smart devices, according to the fourth quarter (4Q12) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker from IT research firm IDC.

The smart connected device market, a collective view of PCs, tablets and smartphones, grew 27.1 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2012 (3Q12) reaching a record 303.6 million shipments valued at $140.4 billion. Samsung maintained the top position in 3Q12 with 21.8 percent market share based on shipments. Apple, which ranked second overall in shipments, led all vendors in value with a total of $34.1 billion in 3Q12 and an average selling price (ASP) of $744 across all device categories.

"The battle between Samsung and Apple at the top of the smart connected device space is stronger than ever," IDC program manager for Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers Ryan Reith said in a statement. "Both vendors compete at the top of the tablet and smartphone markets. However, the difference in their collective ASPs is a telling sign of different market approaches. The fact that Apple's ASP is $310 higher than Samsung's with more than 20 million fewer shipments in the quarter speaks volumes about the premium product line that Apple sells."

Following Samsung and Apple were Lenovo with 7 percent market share, Hewlet-Packard (HP) with 4.6 percent market share, and Sony (3.6 percent). While Samsung, Apple and Lenovo have all grown share over the past year, HP, which is virtually non-existent in the mobile space, has dropped its share from 7.4 percent in 3Q11 to 4.6 percent in 3Q12 with shipments declining -20.5 percent during that time.

The IDC report noted the holiday shopping season is expected to provide a boost to the market and will be driven by tablets and smartphones, which are expected to grow 55.8 percent and 39.5 percent year-over-year, while PC sales are expected to decline slightly from this quarter a year ago. IDC expects the worldwide smart connected device space will continue to surge well past the strong holiday quarter and predicts shipments to surpass 2.1 billion units in 2016 with a market value of $796.7 billion worldwide.

"Both consumers and business workers are finding the need for multiple smart devices and we expect that trend to grow for several years, especially in more developed regions," IDC program vice president of clients and displays Bob O'Donnell said in prepared remarks. "The advent of cloud-based services is enabling people to seamlessly move from device to device, which encourages the purchase and usage of different devices for different situations."

The report suggests consumers are moving into a new era of connected devices, where smartphones and tablets are becoming the increasingly dominant connected device, at the expense of notebooks and netbooks. In 2011, the combination of desktop and portable PCs accounted for 39.1 percent of the smart connected device market, but by 2016 it is expected to drop to 19.9 percent.

IDC analysts project smartphones will be the preferred product category with share growing to 66.7 percent in 2016 from 53.1 percent in 2011. Tablets will also grow “significantly” with market share reaching 13.4 percent in 2016, up from 7.7 percent in 2011.