Report: Android tablets finally rising, iPad’s reign over?

August 2, 2012
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Whether we like it or not (and we don’t), Apple’s iPad has dominated the global tablet market with ease, making Android eat its dust since… well, ever. The much awaited and anticipated iPad killer hasn’t come, and all the latest reports and surveys, be it official or unofficial, have shown Apple selling more of their tablets than all Android manufacturers together.

Meanwhile, Samsung has admitted “we’re not doing very well in the tablet market” some six months ago, making even the most optimistic of us lose hope for Android to ever challenge Apple’s iPads for their crown.

And when everything seemed lost, a research consulting firm based in New York conducted a study, and found the first evidence of Android getting close to Apple. According to Frank N. Magid Associates’ numbers, it seems that 50% of tablet owners have an iPad these days. That might not seem too shabby for Tim Cook’s tech giant, but if we take into account that earlier reports showed the company’s tablets holding a 72% market share, we can finally say Android is on a roll.

Unsurprisingly, the Android pack’s leader is a newcomer, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, launched last fall. According to this report, the $200 7-incher has leaped from zero to a 22% market share in less than a year, which is truly impressive anyway you look at it.

We suspected the Fire to be hitting it big ever since last year, but given Amazon’s reluctance to release any official sales figures, we didn’t think the tablet did that good. “That’s what made up the difference” said Tom Godfrey, executive director of mobile strategy for Magid, referring to Fire’s booming success and its role in Android’s seemingly unbelievable ascent.

Godfrey didn’t refrain from making some interesting predictions for the global tablet market’s near future, saying that his research company expects “to see the iPad as the leader, but with the Surface, Kindle Fire, and Nexus 7 as three solid competitors with significant market share.”

The Nexus 7 in particular could steal some of iPad’s spotlight, as it’s a tablet that follows Kindle Fire’s successful path, offering extra portability, more than decent speed and a very fair quality-price ratio. Kindle Fire’s successor(s) should be taken into account as well, although it (or they) aren’t yet confirmed as hitting the market soon. On the other hand, we suspect Apple to be prepping its own 7-inch “low-cost” tablet, the iPad Mini, which could turn the tables in its favor.

Getting back to the report on hand, we can’t wrap up this post without making three more observations. First off, although Kindle Fire’s success can be attributed partially to Android, we have to stress the fact that the 7-incher has never been marketed by Amazon as a full-fledged Android tablet. As you probably already know, the Fire runs a forked version of Android, which some might consider a new OS altogether.

Secondly, we have to urge you to not take the survey’s results very seriously, as they are based on the answers of “4,734 cellphone and smartphone owners”. That’s hardly what you would call a representative sample for the global tablet market, so the actual shares of the iPad, Fire and others might be way off Magid’s numbers.

Finally, it’s pretty obvious we don’t want to take Apple’s part here, comparing iPad’s sales numbers with Kindle Fire’s is like comparing apples and oranges. The new iPad is more than double the Fire’s price, so even if Amazon managed to get somewhat close to iPad in terms of unit sales, Apple is still doing great financially.

That said, it’s surely nice to be treated with some optimistic numbers for a change, making some of us hope again that Apple’s domination could be undercut soon enough. What do you guys think? Can the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire(s) help lift Android close to Apple?

 

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