Android tablet sales explode, but iPad holds firm

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The market research firm International Data Group (IDC) today announced its latest findings in the market trends and performance for worldwide tablet sales, and while it’s looking good for all of the top manufacturers, Apple’s beginning to show some slip in its market share control.

The firm released data showing, after a strong Q2 performance in the tablet realm, that the iPad manufacturer was beginning to slip in market share, falling to about 50 percent of all tablet sales for Q3, down from an impressive nearly 66 percent market share in Q2. Despite this apparent loss in market share, Apple still sold 14 million tablets in Q3, while its nearest competition (Samsung) sold just 5 million. In the bigger picture, Apple is actually selling more tablets, the problem is that it’s selling these tablets up against a roaring amount of competition composed of Samsung, Amazon, HTC, and now Microsoft — which spells trouble for its Q4 market share.

The IDC also drew a comparison in Q3 performance this year with that of 2011, and that’s where the numbers get startling. While Apple’s sales have grown by about 26 percent, Samsung’s have grown by an impressive 325 percent, and Asus by 242 percent. Apple’s top dog position won’t remain if it can’t slow down competitors’ momentum. In one such attempt to stop this momentum, Apple launched the iPad Mini and iPad 4, which sold 3 million in their first weekend alone.

Despite the momentum of the Apple iPad Mini, it seems that Apple cannot change the fact it’s competing against dozens of other companies who continue to refine and build upon their own mobile user experiences. They will do everything in their power to nibble away at the iPad market share. While lawsuits have been one route to settle this, the fact remains that Apple couldn’t have certainly expected its huge, 60-70 percent market share to last much longer.

At the end of the day, we’ve seen this coming. The introduction of two more tablets today alone only confirms it. The tablet market is exploding. That means that there will be plenty of competitors coming over the next few years, and they’ll all be doing whatever they can to have a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. While Apple is far from hurting now, the IDC’s reports are just a taste of what’s to come.