Apple's share of the tablet market continued its downward slide. Apple's market share dropped below 40 percent, to 39.6, which compares to the 43.6 percent share it held in Q4 2012 and the 58.2 percent it had in the year-ago quarter.
Tablet shipments totaled 49.2 million units in Q1 2013, which surpassed that of the entire first half of 2012. Of that total, Apple shipped 19.5 million iPads, compared to IDC's forecast of 18.7 million units. Thus, despite its market share drop, Apple outperformed estimates.
In addition, unlike global smartphone sales, where Samsung has outperformed Apple, Samsung trails Apple badly in the tablet segment. Samsung shipped 8.8 million units in Q1 2013, less than half of Apple's total. In terms of unit growth, however, Samsung shipped 282 percent more tablets than in Q1 2012, when it shipped 2.3 million tablets. The Korean giant held a 17.9 percent market share in Q1 2013, vs. the year ago quarter's share of 11.3 percent.
Meanwhile, Asus shipped 2.7 million units for a 5.5 percent market share in Q1 2013. That compares with 600,000 units in Q1 2012 for a 3.1 percent market share, and a 350 percent increase over that year-ago quarter.
Combining both Surface RT and Surface Pro shipments, IDC said that Microsoft shipped 900,000 units. With that, Microsoft entered into the top five vendors for tablet sales, with a Q1 market share of 1.8 percent.
In terms of platform shipments, Android passed iOS in the recent quarter to grab 56.5 percent of the market share, with iOS in second place with Apple's aforementioned 39.6 percent.
Apple outperformed IDC's most recent projections for the quarter, shipping 19.5 million units compared to a forecast of 18.7 million units. The company, which historically has experienced a steep drop off in first quarter shipments (following strong holiday sales in the fourth quarter), saw some smoothing of that seasonality this year.
Number two vendor Samsung also performed above expectations and managed to grow its shipments over the fourth quarter as more of the company's smaller-sized tablets began to gain traction in the market. Samsung has also used its recent Android smartphone growth to help bring its tablet product line into new markets and channels, leveraging the opportunity to package and bundle. The strong performance of the two market leaders helped drive total shipments to an impressive 49.2 million units for the quarter.