This morning market research firm IHS iSuppli offered up a tablet computer market survey with a rather puzzling aspect, saying Apple’s (AAPL) sales of 15.4 million iPads in the company’s fiscal Q1 ended in December fell short of the firm’s projection, perhaps because of the runaway success of the iPhone, of which Apple sold 37 million units.
iPad sales were well above many Wall Street analysts’ estimates at the time, I would note, ranging from 12 million to 14 million. However, the number of iPhones sold was certainly the standout surprise in the quarter.
As iSuppli’s Rhoda Alexander put it, “The primary alternative [to the iPad] wasn’t the [Amazon.com (AMZN)] Kindle Fire—which debuted to solid sales in the fourth quarter—but Apple’s own iPhone 4S smartphone. The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets.”
iSuppli estimates Amazon.com sold 3.9 million of its Kindle Fire during the quarter.
Puzzling, because an iPhone in this sense was competing for dollars, but not necessarily competing for shoppers’ usage or for their buying intentions, at least not without knowing more about such intentions.
In any even, Apple had 57% of the entire “media tablet” unit shipments in Q4, down from 64% in Q3. Shipments totaled 27.1 million for the industry. Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) was in third place with 2.14 million units of its “Galaxy Tab,” and Barnes & Noble (BKS) was in fourth place with 1.9 million units of the “Nook” family of e-readers and tablets, iSuppli estimates.