Apple Competing with Itself in the Tablet Market, IHS iSuppli Says

Amazon sold nearly 3.9 million Kindle Fire devices in the fourth quarter of 2011, enough to come roaring out the gates and grab a 14 percent share of the media tablet market, according to data released today by market research firm IHS iSuppli. But believe it or not, it's Apple's own iPhone 4S that's been giving the iPad a run for its money, IHS iSuppi claims.

Apple sold over 15.4 million iPad devices in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 11.1 million in the previous quarter. However, it's share of the tablet market dropped from 64 percent in Q3 to 57 percent in Q4, but not just because of the Kindle Fire.

"Shipments of the iPad line fell short of IHS estimates in the fourth quarter as many loyal Apple customers devoted their dollars to shiny new alternatives," said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager, tablet and monitor research for IHS. "However, the primary alternative wasn’t the Kindle Fire—which debuted to solid sales in the fourth quarter—but Apple’s own iPhone 4S smartphone. The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets."

In other words, Apple is fighting with itself, and in different arenas. Be that as it may, the iPad doesn't appear to be losing much steam. For all of 2011, Apple shipped 40.5 million iPad and iPad 2 devices, up 168 percent from 15.1 million in 2010.

Things will get much more interesting as the year goes on. Apple is reportedly getting ready to announce an iPad 3 device next month, and there are several high-powered, lower-cost Android tablets on the horizon, including the Samsumg Galaxy Tab 2 and Asus MeMO 370T.