Apple announced recently that it shipped a whopping 15.4 million iPads in the most recent quarter, with iPads outselling Mac computers by a margin of nearly 3 to 1. But how does the iPad fare against the onslaught of tablets running Android, Windows, or other operating systems?

Pretty well, actually. According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, about 26.8 million tablets were shipping in the fourth quarter of 2011. If 15.4 million of those were iPads, that gives Apple 57.6 percent of the tablet market.

Strategy Analytics

That’s down from the 68.2 percent market share the company had a year earlier. But it’s still pretty good considering Apple only has two iPad models and only actively promotes one. Meanwhile there are literally dozens of companies (including Amazon, Asus, and Samsung) pushing Android tablets — and they’ve only managed to capture about 39.1 percent of the tablet market.

Windows tablets and other devices such as the BlackBerry PlayBook made up less than 4 percent of the market with shipments of under a million units, according to Strategy Analytics.

Does this mean that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet space in 2012 and beyond? Not necessarily. A few years ago the smartphone space looked a lot like this. Apple still sells more smartphones than anyone (except, occasionally, for Samsung). But Android phones have been outselling iPhones for a while now.

It’s not hard to imagine a future where Android tablets outsell iPads — but that’s not necessarily bad news for Apple. Overall tablet shipments are on the rise. The report suggests that 10.7 million were shipped in Q4, 2010, compared with 26.8 million in the same period in 2011. If the trend continues Apple could sell even more tablets this year than last while continuing to lose market share. Somehow I don’t think Tim Cook stays up at night worrying about that prospect.

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8 replies on “Tablets sales are up (iPad still dominates, but market share is shrinking)”

  1. Tim Cook should be waking up screaming
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEgqIY7xgtE 
    “Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”

    Apple had it good when every competitor was trying to make a proprietary “iPod Killer”. Now with the competition largely unified around Android, Apple faces a death of a thousand cuts.

    Look at smartphones:
    -“The iPhone has no competition ever”
    -“Android is a weak knockoff and will never compete”
    -“Android will never have a major share”
    -“Android has a larger market share but no one company has a bigger share than Apple”
    -“Samsung has a larger market share but no one model has a bigger share than the iPhone 4”

    Replace with Mac and Windows and we know the end of that story.

    The immediate problem is margins, going it alone on processors, software and design is very expensive, especially when the rest of the industry effectively pools development via modular components and software.
    https://chrisklein.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/apple-vs-android-modular-to-interdependent-and-back-to-modular/
    This is fine when you have the huge margins associated with being the only game in town. If content producers have an alternative channel for distribution and you are regularly undercut on hardware price, huge margins are no longer viable. At some tipping point, this becomes a vicious cycle which consumes Apple.

    1. Interesting Analysis.  I don’t agree with ANY of your conclusions, but hey, that’s what makes life interesting.

      However if you honestly believe that not having control over ANY segment of your product is the ideal, and having total control is a problem…  Well that’s one opinion I guess.

      1. Oh lord, please explain how apple has more control over their products than Samsung has over theirs?

        Let’s see. . . Samsung makes everything and can customize Android infinitely to their hardware and also have their own OS in Bada.
        Apple writes software for hardware pulled off a shelf basically.

  2. A year or so ago, a tech web site asked when Microsoft would (if ever) come out with the Windows desktop operating system (not Windoes CE, Windows Phone, or any of those variants) on ARM, as well as on x86. 

    I had suggested that it would occur when ARM devices suitable for desktop-type use (including laptops, tablets, slates, nettops, UMPCs, etc) would hit 50 million units shipped a year.   Looks like that forecast isn’t too far off the mark.

    1. Windows 8 is horrible, though. Besides, I think Android and iOS have such a lead, Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than bully people around to make any ground.

    2. Code incompatibility between ARM and x86 for legacy windows applications makes moving to Windows 8 on ARM roughly the equivalent of moving to Linux or Mac.  You’re tossing your entire existing code base out the window to rely on a new, completely untested platform with as much chance of failing as succeeding.

      So I’d temper your enthusiasm somewhat on that front.

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