The comment of Thorsten Heins, chief executive officer of Research In Motion Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) that computer tablets alone is “not a good business model” seemed wrong as sales increased by 142.4% year-over-year in the first quarter of 2013, according to the preliminary data released by the International Data Corporation (IDC).

Thorsten Heins

In an interview with Bloomberg last month, Heins said that the tablet computer has no future. According to him, “In five years, I don’t think there will be a reason to have a tablet anymore. Maybe a big screen in your work space, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

Data from the IDC showed that 49.2 million units of tablets were shipped in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. The volume exceeded the shipments of the entire first half of 2012. According to the research firm, the growth in the tablet market was driven by an increased demand for smaller screen device.

According to IDC, the demand for tablets showed no sign of slowing down, which is contrary to the prediction of Heins that the device has no future.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) remained the leading vendor of tablets as the iPad Maker shipped 19.5 million units surpassing the IDC estimate of 18.7 million units in the first quarter.

Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC said, “Sustained demand for the iPad mini and increasingly strong commercial shipments led to a better-than expected first quarter for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). In addition, by moving the iPad launch to the fourth quarter of 2012, Apple seems to have avoided the typical first-quarter slowdown that traditionally occurred when consumers held off buying in January and February in anticipation of a new product launch in March.”

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) ranked second with 8.8 million units shipped during the period. Its performance also exceeded the research firm’s expectation as its tablet volume rose by 282.6% year-over year from its 2.3 million units shipped in the same quarter in 2012.

IDC cited that the performance of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) contributed 49.2%  to the total shipments of tablet devices for the quarter.

Asus ranked third with 2.7 million units shipped, an increase of 350% year-over-year from 0.6 million units shipped in the same period in 2012. According to IDC, Asus performance was driven its continued offerings of decent tablets particularly the highly marketed Nexus 7 device.

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) ranked fourth as the company suffered from seasonal product cycle. The online e-commerce giant shipped 1.8 million units in the first quarter.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) ranked fifth as the company shipped 900,000 units of Surface RT and Surface Pro tablets.

According to IDC, Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets continue to struggle to gain market share. The company’s total shipment for the devices across all vendors was 1.8 million units.

Ryan Reith, program manager of Mobility Tracker Program at IDC said, “Recent rumors have circulated about the possibility of smaller screen Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets hitting the market. However, the notion that this will be the saving grace is flawed. Clearly the market is moving toward smart 7-8 inch devices, but Microsoft’s larger challenges center around consumer messaging and lower cost competition. If these challenges are addressed, along with the desired screen size variations, then we could see Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) make even further headway in 2013 and beyond.”