Tablets Outstrip other Platforms

A new tipping point in the world of tablets: analysts at Gartner have released their tablet sales numbers for 2013, and Android has topped the list for the most popular platform for the first time, outselling Apple’s range of iPad tablets nearly twofold. Of the 195 million tablets sold in 2013, Android took nearly 62 per cent of sales on 121 million tablets, while Apple sold 70 million iPad tablets for a 36 per cent share.

In comparison, last year, Apple led the tablet category with nearly 53 per cent of sales on 61 million units, compared to Android at nearly 46 per cent with 53 million tablets sold.

What’s fuelling sales these days? Low-end, smaller screen tablets, along with first-time buyers, Gartner says. Ironically, one of the companies that had pioneered that form factor and targeted newbies, Amazon, isn’t faring so well. Interestingly, while many saw Amazon and its cut-price Kindle Fire as disruptors in the tablet space when the e-commerce giant first entered the market in 2011, it looks like the company has lost some steam. Sales were up by some 2 million to 9 million, but its overall market share declined to 4.8 per cent from 6.6 per cent in 2012. (And Gartner is not alone here; IDC noted similar declines for Amazon in quarterly sales earlier this year.)

Price and size alone will not do it in the future, it seems. Gartner believes that this may signal a turn towards more features, even on less expensive devices.

Going further into specific vendors and brands, Apple continues to lead tablet sales overall with 36 per cent of all sales on that 70 million figure. Samsung, as expected, is using its bigger range of Galaxy tablets to catch up swiftly, with 37 million tablets sold for a 19 per cent share — a huge leap considering that a year ago, for 2012, it only had 7 per cent share compared to Apple’s 53 per cent.

Among platforms, distant third Microsoft took a modest 2.1 per cent share of total purchases, on sales that grew nearly threefold to 4 million, with Gartner noting that its ecosystem “still failed to capture major consumers’ interest on tablets.”

“To compete, Microsoft needs to create compelling ecosystem proposition for consumers and developers across all mobile devices, as tablets and smartphones become key devices for delivering applications and services to users beyond the PC,” writes Cozza. However, the updates announced last week during MWC, which will see more of Microsoft’s traditional PC tweaks restored to the tablet form factor, seems almost a move counter to this.

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