Apple managed to sell around 3 million iPads in the three days following the release of the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad. Those are numbers that any tablet-maker would envy, although Apple declined to break out exact sales numbers for the iPad Mini versus the “iPad 4.”
At least one analyst believes those sales numbers could prove the start of a very good quarter for Apple. “We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the new iPad mini,” Tom Mainelli, research director of Tablets at IDC, wrote in a Nov. 5 statement. “Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter.”
However, he added, “We believe the mini’s relatively high $329 starting price leaves plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter.”
Apple faces strong competition for holiday-shopper dollars, particularly in the 7-inch tablet category. In addition to Amazon’s revamped Kindle Fire HD, Google is pushing an updated Nexus 7 tablet. In the larger tablet categories, the “regular sized” iPad is facing off against Google’s 10-inch Nexus 10 and the 10.6-inch Microsoft Surface, which runs Windows 8.
Google Android remains the largest barrier to Apple’s designs on the mobile-device market. Research firm IDC recently placed Android’s share of the smartphone market at 75 percent for the third quarter of 2012, while Apple’s iOS took 14.9 percent. (Both Android and iOS far outpaced any rivals.)
Meanwhile, IDC estimated Apple’s share of the tablet market at 50.4 percent in the third quarter of 2012, down from 59.7 percent from the same period last year. Android tablet manufacturers such as Samsung and Amazon gained ground, with Samsung along expanding its market-share from 6.5 percent to 18.4 percent. As IDC’s Mainelli mentioned in his research note, a number of potential iPad purchasers held off in the third quarter as they waited for new releases from Apple. But that doesn’t change the fact that an increasing number of tablet purchasers went for an Android device over an iPad.
If those trends in smartphones and tablets continue, then Apple could have a fierce fight on its hands in quarters ahead.