Samsung Leapfrogs Apple in Smart Connected Device Market Share

The "Smart Connected Devices" market grew by 29.1 percent in 2012, and was largely driven by tablet and smartphone growth, according to International Data Corporation's (IDC's) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker. Among the devices collectively tracked are desktop PCs, portable PCs, tablets, and smartphones, though not all sub-categories saw growth. Desktop PCs and portable PCs declined 3.4 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively, versus last year, both of which were more than offset by growing tablet shipments (up 78.4 percent) and smartphone shipments (up 46.1 percent).

"Smartphones and tablets are growing at a pace that PCs can't realistically keep up with because of device prices and to some extent disposability," explained Ryan Reith, program manager, Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. "The average selling price (ASP) for a tablet declined 15 percent in 2012 to $461, and we expect that trend to continue in 2013. However, smartphone APSs are still lower at $408. We expect smartphones to continue to carry a shorter life cycle than PCs for the years to come based on price, use case, and overall device size."

Samsung Galaxy Tab Devices

The surge in mobile sales propelled Samsung to the top spot in terms of Smart Connected Devices market share. Samsung shipped 86 percent more devices in 2012 versus last year and now leads the market with a 21.2 percent stake. Apple, meanwhile, increased its shipments by 29.7 percent, but slipped into second place with a 20.3 percent share of the market. Lenovo sits in a distant third with a 6.6 percent stake, followed by HP at 4.1 percent and Sony at 3 percent.

"The fourth quarter market share numbers showed a fairly dramatic resurgence for Apple," said Bob O'Donnell, program vice president, Clients and Displays. "After falling well behind Samsung early in 2012, Apple came roaring back in final quarter of the year thanks to its latest hits – the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini – and reduced the market share gap to less than a single percentage point. The question moving forward will be whether or not Apple can maintain its hit parade against the juggernaut of Samsung."

That will depend on Apple's strategy going forward. There's been plenty of chatter about a lower cost iPhone, which could help Apple regain some of the smartphone share it's lost to Android, and Samsung in particular. Apple, however, has denied that it's working on such a device.