Microsoft's Surface Struggles in Q1, Apple Outperforms Estimates

3 minute read
David Roe avatar

There doesn't seem to be much of a recession in the tablet space. According to figures just released by International Data Corporation growth in the market is estimated to be 142% year-on-year with Microsoft climbing into fifth position on the back of Surface.

Looking at the global picture and the figures for tablet sales across all vendors, Apple, as you might expect, maintained its spectacular lead with 19.5 million units sold in the first quarter of this year, with its nearest rival, Samsung, selling less than half of that at 8.8 million.

IDC Tablet shipments.jpg

Microsoft Surface

Figures for the Surface tablet, both the RT and Pro editions were what everyone was keen to see, and while it shipped 900,000 units, it still has failed to create the stir that Microsoft was hoping for.

While it only started shipping the Pro version in February, the figures don't point to a rising star. Even before the official release of Pro, there had been criticisms of its poor battery life, which is set at around four hours -- as opposed to the eight hour average for other tablets.

It terms of market share, the figures are also far less than Microsoft would have wished with 1.8% of the market as opposed to Apple’s 39% and Samsung’s 18%. For IDC the problem is wider than that though, and points to problems for the Windows 8 product itself:

Learning Opportunities

Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continued to struggle to gain traction in the market. Total combined Windows 8 and Windows RT shipments across all vendors reached 1.8 million units,” IDC said in a statement.

But Microsoft, it seems, is already working on the something that it hopes will give a larger market share.

Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market…However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly, the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft's larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft make even further headway in 2013 and beyond."

Tablet Market Q1

Overall, the market performed well in the first quarter, a traditionally low point in the year for the tablet market. Shipments totaled 49.2 million units over the quarter, being more than the entire first half of 2012.That growth was fuelled by increased market demand for smaller screen devices with overall sales showing no sign of slowing down.

Apple performed better than IDC’s projections by 700,000 units, which bucks the normal trend of a falloff in shipments following the holiday period and expected product launches in March.

Samsung, it says, also performed above expectations as it started to increase the number of units shipped over the fourth quarter due to demand for its smaller sized tablets.