Research firm IHS iSuppli has released a report on marketshare in tablets by volume shipped that shows Apple up significantly once again in the tablet market, reaching 70 percent share in Q2 -- the highest level in more than a year. Shipping volumes do not necessarily have a direct correlation with sales, as Samsung demonstrated in the current Apple patent trial when it was forced to reveal that despite shipping millions of tablets, it actually sold only a small percentage.
In Apple's case, however, shipping numbers reflect much more closely actual sales, since Apple is still selling all the units it makes and the company only reports actual sell-through. Most other competitors, such as Samsung, Asus and Barnes & Noble only give shipping numbers and do not reveal actual sales. Amazon, which ranked third in the iSuppli survey with one million shipped, is the only Apple competitor in the tablet space that likely sells most of the units it ships.
Apple's shipments of the iPad in 2012 (first and second quarters) was about 17 million worldwide, reaching the 70 percent share. By comparison, Samsung shipped just 2.3 million units for a 9.2 percent share. While full global sales breakdowns are not available, the trial presented a rare opportunity to directly compare actual (though limited to the US) sales between the two companies. Apple, in court, revealed that it sold over 10.1 million units in the US during the first two quarters, while Samsung had sold only 193,000 tablets in the same period.
The survey does not take into account the Galaxy Nexus 7, which was released in the third calendar quarter. While no official sales figures are out yet, the Nexus 7 is thought to be doing well despite mixed reviews, since it is positioned as the best 7-inch alternative to the iPad for those looking specifically for a smaller form factor.
Amazon is estimated to have shipped a million Kindle Fire tablets in Q2 for a 4.2 percent share. Asus (688,000 shipped) and Barnes & Noble (459,000 Nooks shipped) round out the top five. If one counted all other makers combined as a single competitors, the three million units shipped would replace Samsung at the number two position with a 12.3 percent share.
Apple's improvement in the second quarter is especially noteworthy since it was up from 58 percent share of tablets shipped in the first quarter, for an overall YTD average of 64.4 percent. The difference is likely due mostly to the introduction of the 2012 iPad late in the first quarter, along with the price reduction for the iPad 2. Apple's shipment share is likely to suffer somewhat in the third quarter as Google and Samsung's Nexus 7 tablet's shipments will be counted in the next report, which may increase Samsung's share.