Media tablet shipments into sales channels rose by 56.1% on a sequential basis in Q4 2011, taking the worldwide market to 28.2 million units, according IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker.
The market was up 155% from the Q4 2010, driven by stronger-than-expected growth across many regions and at many price points, particularly sales of Amazon Kindle Fire and Apple iPad, leading to a full-year 2011 total of 68.7 million units.
IDC expects that strong demand this year will mean the market reaching 106.1 million units, up from its previous forecast of 87.7 million units.
Amazon shipped 4.7 million Kindle Fires into the market, in the quarter, marking 16.8% global market share, but was still in second place to Apple, which shipped 15.4 million units in Q4 2011, up from 11.1 million units in 3Q11, representing a market share of 54.7%.
"Amazon's widely-reported entry into the media tablet market with a $199, 7-inch product seemed to raise consumers' awareness of the category worldwide despite the fact that the Fire shipped almost exclusively in the US in the fourth quarter," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "As a result, products across the pricing spectrum sold well, including everything from Apple's premium-priced iPads (which start at $499) to Pandigital's line of Android-based, entry-level tablets (which start at $120). The success of market leader Apple was particularly noteworthy, as the company's shipment total for the quarter represents an increase of 110.5% from 4Q10."
In terms of operating system market share, Android made strong gains, in part due to the Kindle Fire running Google's OS, with Android market share reaching 44.6%. Apple's iOS slipped from 61.6% market share to 54.7%, while Blackberry also dipped from 1.1% to 0.7%.
"As the sole vendor shipping iOS products, Apple will remain dominant in terms of worldwide vendor unit shipments," Mainelli said. "However, the sheer number of vendors shipping low-priced, Android-based tablets means that Google's OS will overtake Apple's in terms of worldwide market share by 2015. We expect iOS to remain the revenue market share leader through the end of our 2016 forecast period and beyond."