Android tablets have sprung up in recent years. So far, they have enjoyed a very warm welcome from consumers, and it looks like they will continue to get more of the market share in 2013, according to a report released by the International Data Corporation (IDC). The report says that Android tablets may steal the throne from the iPad, which has held the rank of being the top tablet on the market for the last few years.
The IDC research indicates that the trend for this year puts emphasis on smaller tablets, particularly those with 7- or 8-inch screens. In the first quarter of 2013, 50% of the total tablet shipments belonged to tablets with screens smaller than 8 inches. These small tablets are projected to reach an estimated 191 million shipments by the end of the year, which is about 20 million more than the previous forecast.
Two years ago, iOS had 56% of the global market share while Android only had 40%. A year ago, the global market share for iOS dropped to 51% while that for Android increased to 46%. This year, Android’s global market share is expected to reach 49% while that of iOS is projected to go down to 46%. Small tablets are estimated to get 64% of the market share in the US by 2017, during which Android is expected to get 46% of the market share while iOS is expected to get just 44%.
IDC program manager Ryan Reith says that Android tablets have obviously gained ground, upstaging the formerly dominating iOS tablets. This is the first time that the iPad has not occupied the number one spot among tablets.
One factor that has influenced this trend is the fact that the iPad is bigger than the recently released Android tablets. It is heavier, too, and a bit awkward to handle compared to the smaller tablets, which are easier to carry around. Cost is also another factor that has driven this trend. The iPad is considerably pricier than other tablets, and some people find that iPad’s higher cost is not justified, particularly when they believe that the capabilities of the new tablets are at par with that of the iPad. Tablets are considered to be the third priority among communications devices, trailing behind smartphones and personal computers or laptops.
The study done by IDC included all tablets with screens measuring 7 to 16 inches. This included the Amazon Kindle, which runs on Android but is primarily an E-reader. The rise of tablets is said to hurt the sales of devices that function solely as E-readers because other Android tablets can do what E-readers can do and more. Plus, there is no point carrying a separate tablet-like device around just for reading E-books when you already have a tablet where you can keep and read your E-books.
In 2011, the shipments for E-readers totaled 26.4 million worldwide, while in 2012 the shipments only totaled 18.2 million. A declining trend is expected for 2013 and 2014, and by 2015, the trend for E-reader sales is expected to go downward permanently. This means earlier models of the Amazon Kindle will no longer be sought after, although the Kindle Fire, which allows web browsing and media consumption, might still make it.
How about Apple’s recent iPad Mini? It has just the right size with a screen of 7.9 inches, and it can compete with Android tablets. However, other tablets are a lot less expensive. This is where the iPad lost the battle. At the end of the day, people will consider the cost and will choose lower end devices that can perform and deliver just the same as their expensive counterparts.
The research done by IDC involved shipments sold to end users and to distributors. This means there is a possibility that there may be units from those shipments that have not yet been sold. Apple is reportedly not alarmed by the results of this study because of the high demand for their products.
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