The global tablet market continues to soar, with Apple on top for the foreseeable future with its iPad, although Android -powered shipments are giving Apple a run for its money. Microsoft 's Surface tablets, running two versions of Windows, are slowly catching on.
According to the latest research from Boston-based Strategy Analytics, Apple's iOS devices, the iPad and iPad mini, command a 48 percent "strong leadership position" among the 40.6 million total tablets sold in the first quarter of this year. The number of tablets shipped rose 117 percent from a year ago.
The White-Box Factor
Apple's share is down substantially, however, from its majority share of 68 percent in the first quarter of a year ago. That slippage is mainly at the hands of tablets running Google's Android operating system, made by a variety of manufacturers, the largest of which is Samsung.
Android's share of the market grew from 34.2 percent to 43.4 percent in the same time frame. Microsoft, which had no horse in the race last year, jumped to 7.4 percent of the market in the just-ended quarter with its Surface devices, which run either Windows 8 or Windows RT.
But Android's growth could be even bigger, depending how you look at it.
"Android represented 43 percent market share of the branded tablet market," Strategy Analytics' director of tablets, Peter King, told us.
"But when you added in the white-box market -- budget tablets from Shenzhen -- that figure grew to 52 percent, and iOS slips to 41 percent from 48 percent. So, we believe that certainly for the next couple of years, Apple should worry about Android and not Windows, which will only ever reach the high teens of market share, or BlackBerry, which will never be anything other than niche."
BlackBerry's PlayBook tablet is included in the "other" category in the Strategy Analytics survey, which ranked at a sad 1 percent of the market, less than half its 2.7 percent share last year for smaller players.
"White-box" tablets are those made by a manufacturer that vendors rebrand as their own.
More Variety Expected
King said he expects Apple to increase the range of tablet size and form offerings beyond its current two iPads. But it won't be alone in diversifying.
"We expect to see new form factors from all vendors -- certainly improved Retina minis as well as both smaller and larger sizes," King said. "We can expect to see 8-inch Windows tablets hitting the market quite soon as well."
Looking at shipments, Apple's 11.8 million for the first quarter of 2012 grew to 19.5 million this year, according to Strategy Analytics' estimates, while Android more than doubled its 6.4 million units shipped, with 17.6 million. Windows went from zilch to 3 million units shipped in the beginning of this year.
Windows shipments would be greater, Strategy Analytics said, if not for "very limited distribution, a shortage of top-tier apps, and confusion in the market."
Posted: 2013-04-26 @ 1:57pm PT
A few new tablets that have launched recently is the Novo 7 Venus... an Android tablet for $149 that's available in the U.S. through a site called TabletSprint -- and compares closely to the Nexus 7 -- featuring a Quad Core processor and 1280x800 HD IPS Screen, while also offering a 2-Megapixel rear camera, a MicroSD memory card slot, 4000 Mah Battery, and HDMI 1080p; plus 3G internet connection through its USB port -- all of which aren't featured on the Nexus 7.
Two other worthy Android tablets launch in May, 2013 that are also worth looking at -- One is the new 7GT - 3G -- a 7" Android tablet from Icoo Electronics that retails for $199 at TabletSprint -- one of its best features is built-in 3G for Internet and phone connection -- this tablet also matches all the high end specs of the Nexus 7 - 3G version, including a Quad Core processor, 16GB Memory, Android 4.2 O/S, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and a 1280x800 IPS HD Screen... and sells for $100 less than the Nexus; while also featuring a 5 Megapixel Rear Camera, HDMI with 4K output to stream movies to an HD TV, as well as MicroSD Card storage -- all features the Nexus doesn't offer. 3G makes internet access so much easier... simply slip in a SIM Card from any GSM Carrier such as AT&T and T-Mobile and your connected.
Also available is the X10 Pro Mini by Ramos Electronics - for $229 --offering the same size as the Mini iPad - with a 7.85 " display - and also featuring Built-in 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth, built-in GPS, HDMI, 16GB Memory, MicroSD, and Android 4.2 O/S.
Both the Icoo and Ramos tablets are the first truly affordable 3G - HSPA+ tablets on the market as prior to their launch, tablets with 3G were in the $300+ price
range... Full size, 10 inch versions are also soon to follow and I imagine TabletSprint will carry these models as well.