The growing throng of Android tablets has been successful in chipping away at the Apple iPad’s dominance. Research house International Data Corp (IDC) has predicted that this year will be the first that Android tablet shipments will overtake those of Apple iPads since the launch of the first iPad in 2010.
Android tablets are available from brands of great repute and from unknowns, in a huge amount of sizes and at an extremely wide range of prices. Arguably some of the cheaper branded Android tablets could be added to a supermarket shopping basket as an impulse buy. It is not surprising that Android tablets are flying off shelves, especially during the holiday seasons, as you can buy something with similar apps and functionality as an Apple iPad for a fraction of the price.
With a bit more cash in the pot there are also Android tablet solutions that are arguably better than Apple’s iPad offerings, with features such as pressure sensitive stylus input or ruggedness/waterproofing and so on. These are still mostly cheaper than the Apple iPad range. So Apple is being attacked on many sides; price, form factors and product feature differentiation. Though Apple’s share of the market may be overtaken it will still have an enviable amount of sales of products with a good profit margin.
In 2011 global tablet market shipments were 72 million, in 2012 there were over 128 million tablets shipped. In 2013 IDC has just upwardly revised its projections from 172 million to 191 million. Supplying nearly half of that market is still a great business (the projected iPad share for 2013 is 46 per cent).
Smaller tablets are currently extremely popular with half of all tablets shipped in Q1 2013 being under 8-inches in screen size.
Slippery smartphone slope
Looking forward, as analysts like to do, the signs are not so good for Apple. A Wall Street analyst is quoted by Reuters, comparing Apple to BlackBerry in terms of how the iPhone is now falling out of favour and Samsung are on the ascendancy. He added that “Historically when handset makers fall out of favor (e.g., the Razr, Blackberry, HTC) they fall faster/further than expected.” The smartphone wars will be in the headlines again very shortly with the imminent Samsung Galaxy S4 release.