Tablet shipments worldwide topped 52.5 million units over the holidays, an increase of 75 percent — the biggest single jump in the history of the tablet market. Tablets are now more than half the size of the traditional PC market, or 58 percent.

That’s what we’ve deduced from a little math following the release today of the latest tablet data from the IDC research company. See the chart above to get a sense for the trend.

Apple’s iPad declined in market share but still drove 22.9 million of those tablet shipments in the latest quarter, or more than 43 percent, remaining the top tablet.

After years of seeing Windows PCs dominate personal computing, considered broadly, Android and iOS devices combined seem to be on a pace to outsell Windows PCs in the not too distant future. Think about that in the context of the historical Apple vs. Microsoft rivalry. Pretty incredible.

Here is IDC’s ranking of the worldwide tablet market for the quarter. The Samsung and ASUS totals include some Windows tablets along with Android, but Microsoft’s Surface, with an estimated 900,000 units shipped, didn’t crack the top 5.

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  • Tim Acheson

    The word “saturation” is always conspicuously absent from articles like this one, promoting standard flawed post-PC Apple propaganda.

    The PC market is at saturation, where growth (and sales) becomes exponentially slower. The tablet market is young and at the low end of the saturation curve. It’s noteworthy that certain commentators choose to overlook this crucial factor when comparing sales figures. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

    It’s also worth noting that PCs and tablets are not directly comparable. PCs are built to last and be upgraded by individual components, while people upgrade mobile devices much more frequently. Hardware stores sell more nails than hammers.

    • Todd Bishop

      Hi Tim – Thanks for the comments. The numbers here are pretty straightforward. Traditional PC sales are flat or down. Tablet sales are soaring. Saturation or not, that is what’s happening.

      Obviously the tablet market is young, and the PC market is old. I think most people reading this have a grasp of that. But if failing to point that out qualifies as post-PC Apple propaganda, I guess I’m guilty.

      I actually think Microsoft would disagree with your statement about saturation, as the company talks about the market potential for the next billion PC users.

      On your last point me ask you this: What is the Surface Pro? A tablet or a PC? Really it’s both. With all the hybrids and convertibles out there, that’s just one example. There is clearly overlap between these two markets. It’s more than fair to compare them, and consider the dynamic between them.

      Many people who might otherwise spend money on Windows netbooks and low-end notebooks are now buying iPads instead.

      • Tim Acheson

        Hi Todd. To be fair, you didn’t mention “post-PC” — an official Apple propaganda buzzword. :)

        If we accept the stats at face value, a brief glance at the characteristics of a saturation curve explains them better than any other theory.

        You mentioned iOS, Android and Windows 8 tablets, and acknowledged that “Apple’s iPad declined in market share”. Hence, my point is really that I can imagine the stats presented in this article, and perhaps this article, being cited explicitly as “post-PC” or at least by proponents of “post-PC” theories.

        Of course, it’s easy to understand why Apple coined the term “post-PC” when after all these years Mac barely scraped past 5% market share against Windows in the desktop market.

        • guest

          Apple didn’t coin the phrase. They just adopted it as their own and now everyone gives them credit for it. And you’re right, it made sense given their relatively weak PC share. It’s in fact brilliant marketing, something we haven’t seen from MS since maybe Windows 95. That said, there’s no denying that the grow of tablets is contributing to the pressure on PC sales. It’s also clear that the PC’s historical role as the primary vehicle for personal computing has shifted significant in just the past few years. For an increasing number of people the smartphone or tablet is now their primary computing device. None of this would be a problem per se for MS. Indeed they saw both markets early and were vocal proponents of them. The issue for MS is how spectacularly unsuccessful it efforts to gain share have been. It’s now a sub 5% player in both. That’s the problem. And that’s why Post-PC is being equated to Post-MS.

  • Tim Acheson

    Prediction: 100% probability that Charles Arthur and colleagues will select this article in their “Boot-up” column for the Tech section of The Guardian, the world’s most popular online newspaper website. I’ll comment here again when it happens.

    Estimation: 50% probability that The Guardian will link to this article within 48 hours of this comment.

    (The basis of my prediction and confidence therein is that this article is classic post-PC propaganda, and The Guardian’s technology editor rarely misses an opportunity to promote this type of material.)

  • MSPR hack

    People just need to be more patient and give us another decade or two to make our long promised comeback. We’ve been on this journey of reimagining our company ever since… well, since Apple and Google got tired of kicking our ass on everything new and decided to circle back around to our core businesses for the kill. Meanwhile it gives us a chance to have a conversation with our customers and partners while we continue this journey of exploration and discovery.

  • Midnight

    I believe the PC is evolving and these Hybrid convertibles, are the first steps during this evolution process. Bill Gates had a vision when he first introduced the first tablet running Windows XP. Unfortunately, it was way ahead of its time. Apple has never really innovated on their own. In fact, they take ideas from others and add their own ingredients. Hence the birth of the iPad.

    The ability to write a twenty page report on my Lenovo Yoga and then transform it 360 degrees into a Windows touch tablet experience, is truly a piece of innovation. That is why I believe the best is yet to come for the PC.

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