Apple Losing Out to Android in Tablet Market

The new iPads.

Apple is bleeding market-share in tablets, according to a new report from research firm IDC.

Although worldwide tablet shipments increased to 47.6 million units in the third quarter—a growth rate of 36.7 percent over the same quarter last year—Apple has seen its year-over-year market-share dip from 40.2 percent to 29.6 percent. The world’s Android manufacturers, meanwhile, uniformly enjoyed at least some increase in share over the past twelve months—Samsung saw its portion of the market increase from 12.4 percent to 20.4 percent, for example, while Asus experienced a slight uptick from 6.6 percent to 7.4 percent.

In other words, “iPad” isn’t synonymous with “tablet.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean things are looking dark for Apple: although consumers and businesses are buying up inexpensive Android tablets, IDC analysts believe that many of those devices offer a comparatively poor user experience. “Many use cheap parts and non Google-approved versions of Android that can result in an unsatisfactory customer experience, limited usage, and very little engagement with the ecosystem,” Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets for IDC, wrote in a statement. “Android’s growth in tablets has been stunning to watch, but shipments alone won’t guarantee long-term success.”

Mainelli defined that success as “a sustainable hardware business model, a healthy ecosystem for developers, and happy end users.”

The big question now is whether Apple’s latest iPad releases—a slimmer tablet dubbed the “iPad Air” and an updated iPad Mini with a Retina display—will help reverse the company’s tablet-market slide. Rather than try to compete with a growing number of Android manufacturers by flooding the marketplace with cheap tablets, Apple is sticking to its traditional guns and offering its products at a premium price; as Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this year: “We’re not in the junk business.”

That philosophy might prevent Apple from saturating the tablet market, but—as Mainelli suggested—it could help the iPad remain a viable long-term concern.

 

Image: Apple