Apple's Stranglehold on the Tablet Market is Weakening, Share Dips Below 30 Percent

Go ahead and credit Apple for popularizing the tablet market by building a device that became an instant hit, that's fair. And give kudos to the Cupertino company for dominating the landscape with its iPad tablets, that's also fair. However, just as we saw in the smartphone sector, Apple's lead in tablets is eroding right before our very eyes. The latest data from market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) shows that Apple's share of the tablet market is now down below 30 percent, marking a precipitous drop from a year ago.

That's still high enough to quality for first place among the competition, but it's also down more than 10 percent versus last year. What's more, Samsung's share of the tablet market went from 12.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012 to 20.4 percent in the third quarter of 2013.

iPad Air

Samsung is making strides and it's coming at the expense of Apple. At the same time, Apple is facing stiff competition from the deluge of 7-inch and 8-inch Android tablets that undercut both the iPad and iPad mini in price. Part of the reason for that is that Apple is insistent on charging premium prices for its products.

"With two 7.9-inch models starting at $299 and $399, and two 9.7-inch models starting at $399 and $499, Apple is taking steps to appeal to multiple segments," said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst with IDC's Tablet Tracker. "While some undoubtedly hoped for more aggressive pricing from Apple, the current prices clearly reflect Apple's ongoing strategy to maintain its premium status. 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."

With Apple having just announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with a higher resolution "Retina" display, Apple is likely to lead the tablet market in share for at least another quarter, if not several more. However, at the rate things are going, it won't be terribly long before Apple switches places with Samsung.