Tablet Sales Missed Q3 Forecasts, But Nook, Kindle Doing Well

IDC suggests that worldwide tablet sales have skyrocketed over the past 12 months, up 264.5 percent in Q3 2011 as compared to the same period in 2010.  Q3 results, strong as they were, didn't quite match up to the analyst firm's projections, but yearly sales are expected to hit 63.3 million units.

Apple continues to dominate the market, with an estimated 11.1M iPads shipped in Q3. The company's market share is estimated at 61.5 percent—a two percent decline from Q2. HP's TouchPad sold remarkably well through this period, as did the Nook Color. Note that since these figures are from Q3, neither B&N's new Nook Tablet or Amazon's Kindle Fire are included.

Samsung's sales are approximate based on the total number of tablets sold

As for those two products, Amazon claims to have sold upwards of a million Kindle Fire's per week since launching the device and that the device has been the top-selling product on its site since it went on sale 11 weeks ago. Amazon Kindle VP David Limp has stated that "Demand is accelerating – Kindle Fire sales increased week over week for each of the past three weeks."

Barnes & Noble's Nook Color / Nook Tablet are also seeing a significant uptick in sales. The retailer is expected to take delivery of some 1.1M Nook Tablets and 400,000 Nook Colors in Q4; a major increase over Q3 sales figures. One of the important factors for both companies is that neither tablet is blemish-free. The Kindle Fire suffers from uneven response times and slow performance when using Silk (Amazon is working on a major update to address these issues), while the Nook Tablet currently reserves 15GB of its 16GB of storage for B&N content. Users can only load 1GB of data to the device unless they spring for a memory card.

Despite this, both are doing well. As a result, IDC expects Android's share of the tablet market to increase to 40.3 percent in Q4, with BlackBerry falling to 0.7 percent, iOS to 59 percent, and webOS to 0%. "Amazon and Barnes & Noble are shaking up the media tablet market, and their success helps prove that there is an appetite for media tablets beyond Apple's iPad," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "That said, I fully expect Apple to have its best-ever quarter in 4Q11, and in 2012 I think we'll see Apple's product begin to gain more traction outside of the consumer market, specifically with
enterprise and education markets."

"Apple's larger portfolio of tablet-specific apps, upcoming iPad versions, and growing physical store presence in key emerging markets like Asia/Pacific will help maintain its global leadership. However, an improving Android OS experience and lower competitor pricing in an environment with worldwide economic concerns should help Android to increase its market share," said Jennifer Song, research analyst, Worldwide Trackers.

There are rumors of a 7.85" iPad in the works, which would likely compete more directly against devices like Kindle Fire or the Nook Tablet, but no official word from Apple or news on when such a device would actually come to market. It's unlikely that we'd see an iPad at the $199 or $249 price points Amazon and B&N have staked out; the company has a history of preferring premium prices even when it introduces lower-cost products.