Kindle Fire attacks Apple's tablet stranglehold

Apple’s lead in the tablet market may seem unassailable, but despite more growth, Amazon’s Kindle Fire  took a swipe at its market share.

Tim Cook’s recent statement that tablets would overtake desktop PCs might still look like hyperbole, but there are no signs of the tablet market’s rampant growth slowing.

Third quarter shipments were up from 17.4 million units to 27.1 in the fourth, meaning a jump of 194 percent.  Not surprisingly, Apple accounted for the overwhelming majority with its two iPads.

While Apple saw an increase in shipments, up 39 percent from 11.1 million to 15.4 million in the fourth quarter, its share of the market dropped.  This amounted to a lacklustre performance compared to analyst estimates, according to IHS iSuppli, with its share dropping from 64 percent in the third quarter to 57 percent in the fourth.

Predictably it was not Samsung which was responsible for Apple’s share being attacked.

While the statistics are not available for the Kindle Fire during the third quarter, swift sales of the cheaper Android-based OS saw an immediate impact.  3.8 million units shipped contributed to a 14 percent share of the market during the fourth quarter as Apple’s stranglehold was slightly weakened.

This meant that the newly released tablet was able to sell more than Samsung in the final quarter.

Barnes & Noble’s Nook also contributed to the impact on the iPad, with a rise from four percent of the market to seven percent in the fourth quarter.

Apple’s own phone products were more of a threat to its own sales, according to analysts.  The interest from Apple customers in the iPhone 4S was one of the leading reasons for a slump in popularity for the iPad.

Samsung, meanwhile, saw shipments increase from 1.8 million to 2.1 million, as its market share dropped to eight percent from 11 percent.  Over the course of the year, however, Samsung still managed to hold on to its second place position, with the Galaxy Tab accounting for nine percent of overall yearly sales.

Whether this will be maintained going into 2012 remains to be seen.  With Apple’s iPad 3 on the way there is likely to be a resurgence from the market leader, but Windows 8 based tablets are expected to make a big impact later in the year.