It’s hardly fair to group all Android OS tablets together and compare to Apple’s iPad. It is like 100 against 1, and as we used to say as children, “That’ not fair!” Nevertheless, Apple creams the whole bunch of Android hooligans whichever way you pick to look at it. You can talk about apps, profits, market share, or whatever, but Apple is leaps and bounds ahead of the whole pack of wolves.
That having been said, Strategy Analytics revealed that Android OS tablets accounted for 39 percent of the market share in the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple still is hard to catch up with, at 58 percent, down 10 percent from the previous year.
Global tablet shipments, not including over-the-counter sales, according to Peter King, Strategy Analytics’ research director, rocketed 150 percent, from 10.7 to 26.8 million between the fourth quarters of 2010 and 2011. Now consider that Apple sent out 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2011. Not only that, the company also retained a 58 percent of the share lead in the market. Perhaps you can say Apple did not have much to worry about, with that much of a lead, but then again, the 29 percent leap of Android from one year to the next is enough to make Apple look twice over its shoulder.
The stick in the wheel of all this, is that Amazon’s Kindle Fire was counted among the Android units. It is not quite fair, since Kindle has a highly tweaked Android OS. Still, this device is no Galaxy Tab or Xoom. The question that begs to be answered, though, is how big a share of the 39 percent Android slice is taken up by Kindle. After all, Kindle has some whopping sales figures.
Some are saying that Android has not lived up to its expectations to take on iOS and that the Kindle Fire being counted in is tainting the data. However, it is rather like comparing apples and oranges (pun intended). The iOS is only released on devices from one manufacturer. It is impossible to separate the success of that manufacturer from the success of the OS or that of the design or the experience as a whole. But comparing the Android OS on a gadget by two different manufacturers gives us a good measure of these issues in the Android field. When it comes down to it, there is really no point in comparing every Android tablet with Apple’s iOS tablets.
If you would like to stand off the Kindle Fire against the iPad, well then you are just plain crazy. Who wants a mere book instead of an entire computer? The other apples and oranges aspect is the difference in distribution models. Apple spends its time looking at profit margins, while others watch their market shares.
Apple has very little to be afraid of when it comes to tablets. However, Microsoft, who was one of the earliest entries into the market, and who commands a huge amount of resources and partnerships, only snatched up 1.5 percent of the market shares. So Android OS tablets maybe put some pressure on Apple, Microsoft will find it increasingly impossible to catch up.