Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest online retailer, surpassed Samsung Electronics Co as the No. 2 seller of tablet computers last quarter, shipping 3.89 million units, according to research firm IHS Inc.
Amazon’s share rose to 14 percent in the period, up from zero in the third quarter, while Samsung slipped to 8 percent from 11 percent, according to Englewood, Colorado-based IHS. Apple Inc, meanwhile, maintained its lead in the market, accounting for more than half of shipments.
Amazon rolled out its Kindle Fire tablet in November, aiming to undercut Apple’s iPad by selling a tablet at less than half the price. While the Fire may have taken some market share from the iPad, Apple faced even more competition from its own mobile device, the iPhone, said Rhoda Alexander, who manages tablet research for IHS.
“Shipments of the iPad line fell short of IHS estimates in the fourth quarter as many loyal Apple customers devoted their dollars to shiny new alternatives,” she said in the report. “The primary alternative wasn’t the Kindle Fire — which debuted to solid sales in the fourth quarter — but Apple’s own iPhone 4S smartphone.”
Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads to capture 57 percent of the market. The company had a 62 percent share for the year, compared with 87 percent in 2010, when there was little competition. Samsung shipped 2.14 million tablets in the fourth quarter. The whole market rose 55 percent to 27.1 million, according to IHS.
Amazon’s shipment figures fell in line with estimates from Ross Sandler, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets who predicted between 3 million and 4 million units in the fourth quarter. Other analysts expected more, with Jordan Rohan at Stifel Nicolaus & Co projecting as many as 6 million and Anthony DiClemente at Barclays Capital looking for 5.5 million.
Shares of Amazon, based in Seattle, fell 2.5 percent to US$17.93 at the close in New York on Thursday. The stock has gained 3.9 percent this year.