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IDC: Mobility Fuels 29% Jump in Computing Device Market

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Largely on the strength of mobile devices, the market for “Smart Connected Devices,” a category made up of desktop and portable PCs, tablets and smartphones, shipments surged by 29 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 for a total of 367.7 million devices. During 2012, vendors shipped a total 1.2 billion smart connected devices, reported IDC.

Plummeting prices and the ease which with tablets and smartphones can be replaced — relative to PCs and laptops, that is — are helping mobile devices outpace PCs in the marketplace, according to IDC program manager Ryan Reith.

“Smartphones and tablets are growing at a pace that PCs can’t realistically keep up with because of device prices and to some extent disposability. The average selling price (ASP) for a tablet declined 15.0% in 2012 to $461, and we expect that trend to continue in 2013,” said Reith in a company statement.

He expects that buyers will replace their handsets, which are cheaper compared to tablets, a lot faster than they do their PCs. “However, smartphone APSs are still lower at $408. We expect smartphones to continue to carry a shorter life cycle than PCs for the years to come based on price, use case, and overall device size.”

Last year, tablet shipments rose 78.4 percent over 2011. Smartphones made more modest gains (46.1 percent) but maintained a 60.1 percent majority of the smart connected device category.

PCs didn’t fare as well. According to the market research group, desktop and portable PC shipments slipped by 4.1 percent and 3.4 percent during 2012, respectively.

Samsung, which is riding high on the popularity of the Google Android mobile operating system, led the smart connected device category in 2012 with 20.8 share of the market. IDC noted, “Samsung shipped 250.0 million PCs, tablets, and smartphones in the past year, up 119.3% from the previous year, driven largely in part by its surge in the smartphone space.”

While not enough to unseat Samsung, Apple came roaring back in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Bob O’Donnell, program vice president of Clients and Displays for IDC.

“After falling well behind Samsung early in 2012, Apple came roaring back with new products in final quarter of the year thanks to its latest hits – the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini – and reduced the market share gap to less than a single percentage point. The question moving forward will be whether or not Apple can maintain its hit parade against the juggernaut of Samsung,” he stated in press remarks.

All told, Apple maintained an 18.2 percent share of the smart connected device market last year, with 218.7 million units shipped. Lenovo (6.5 percent, 78.3 million units), HP (4.8 percent, 58.2 million units) and Dell (3.2 percent, 38.8 million units) round out the top five.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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