Report: Microsoft ships just shy of 1 million Surface RT tablets in 2012

The International Data Corporation has released a report showing an unexpected growth in the tablet market. Worldwide tablet shipments reached a record total of 52.5 million units in Q4 2012. This is the same quarter Microsoft chose to enter the competition with the Surface family of tablets, releasing the Surface RT tablet. But how did Microsoft perform in the first quarter of selling the product?

According to IDC data, the Apple iPad stole the show with 22.9 million units shipped. This was thanks to a strong iPad mini launch, as well as the fourth generation iPad. Samsung came in second, experiencing 263% year-on-year growth and shipping just shy of 8 million Android and Windows 8 tablets. The company sports a handful of Windows powered tablets under the ATIV umbrella. Apple holds 43.6 percent of the market, while Samsung grabs 15.1 percent.

Also in the top 5 vendors, Amazon and Barnes & Noble both witnessed a sharp increase in market share with new products performing well during the holiday season. Amazon shipped more than 6 million tablets during Q4 2012, pushing the company's share to 11.5 percent. Barnes & Noble almost hit the million unit milestone, jumping up to snatch 1.9% of the market and sits in fifth place. Asus beat the company and came in fourth, but experienced a slight dip in market share, down to 5.8%.

Now we check out Microsoft. Noting that the company only entered the market during Q4 last year, Microsoft didn't perform too badly. Shipping just under 900,000 units, the Surface RT didn't pull the company into the top five listing, but it's a start. This is also without the upcoming Surface Pro Windows tablet - it'll be interesting to see the performance of Microsoft after the second tablet is released. 

Surface RT

Strong push from Microsoft. Market too competitive?

Looking back at when the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT was released, we praised the tablet for being bold and of high quality. Consumers also rushed to purchase one with stock problems occurring in multiple markets where the Surface was launched and available. Ryan Reith, program manager, Mobile Device Trackers at IDC had the following to comment on the company's performance:

"There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul. However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company's Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best.We believe that Microsoft and its partners need to quickly adjust to the market realities of smaller screens and lower prices. In the long run, consumers may grow to believe that high-end computing tablets with desktop operating systems are worth a higher premium than other tablets, but until then ASPs on Windows 8 and Windows RT devices need to come down to drive higher volumes."

The launch could have been better, especially with the holiday season being targeted, but we'll be looking forward to when Microsoft (and OEM partners) continue pushing out new hardware. Microsoft's firmly in the race, let's see what comes next.

Source: IDC

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.