As if Apple didn’t have enough concerns at the moment, new data from Strategy Analytics suggests that the company’s lead in tablets is shrinking.
According to the research firm, Apple iOS fell from 63.1 percent of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2012 to 48.2 percent in the first quarter of 2013. Over that same period, Android went from 34.2 percent to 43.4 percent, and Windows went from 0.0 percent to 7.4 percent. “Other” tablets’ percentage of the market actually fell, from 2.7 percent to 1.0 percent.
But that doesn’t mean iPads are gathering dust on store-shelves: Apple managed to ship 19.5 million tablets in the first quarter of 2013, a significant increase from the 11.8 million it shipped in the first quarter of 2012. (The tablet market itself is expanding, meaning Apple can sell more units than ever but still see its overall share decline.) Android tablets shipped 17.6 million units in the first quarter of 2013, a big jump from 6.4 million in the same quarter last year. Strategy Analytics also claims that 3 million Windows tablets shipped in the first quarter:
Why is the tablet market undergoing such drastic shifts? Simply put, Android tablets have improved over the past year. Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus lines both earned positive reviews and correspondingly strong sales; Samsung has likewise upgraded its Galaxy tablets. The current devices are much improved from the first generation of Android tablets, many of which were universally derided for their poor build quality, substandard hardware, and clunky user interfaces.
Although it’s not a major player at the moment, Microsoft could also make increased headway in the tablet market over the next few quarters. Windows 8 was built to play well on mobile devices in addition to traditional PCs; and while sales of Microsoft’s flagship Surface tablet have been generally perceived as underwhelming, there’s always a chance that subsequent versions could find greater traction among businesses (particularly those that exclusively run Windows on desktops and laptops) and consumers.
That puts some pressure on Apple to not only keep the iPad’s quality high, but ensure enough innovation to keep it ahead of that growing pack of competitors. Ramping up the stakes: Apple CEO Tim Cook announced during his company’s April 23 earnings call that no new products would roll out until this fall, meaning that any rivals have some additional time before a new iPad hits the scene.
Image: Strategy Analytics