Android Tablets Catching Up to iPad's Market Share

Paul Lilly

In terms of market share numbers, Apple's iPad has been dominating ever it came out nearly two years ago, and it still does right at this very moment. Give it a few more quarters, however, and the sheer number of Android tablets could thrust Google's open source platform into the No. 1 spot, overtaking Apple just as it did in the smartphone sector.

The percentage of Android tablets grew from 29 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010 to 39.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, a slightly greater than 10 percent rise, according to data published by market research firm Strategy Analytics. Apple's iPad, meanwhile, conceded 10.5 percentage points, dropping from 68.2 percent to 57.6 percent during the same time period. The two platforms are now separated by 18.5 percent, compared to 39.2 percent one year prior.

"Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, surging 150 percent from 10.7 million in Q4 2010," said Peter King, Director at Strategy Analytics. "Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong. Apple shipped a robust 15.4 million iPads worldwide and maintained its strong market leadership with 58 percent share during the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android models this quarter."

Just as with smartphones, Google's Android platform benefits from the number of players involved, and it's also getting a boost by an emerging trend towards lower cost devices initiated by Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet. Microsoft is also looking to make a splash, and though it only claims a 1.5 percent share of the overall tablet market, that number could spike once Windows 8 is released.

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