Strategy Analytics: Android Tablets Capture a Record 39% Market Share in Q4 2011

by: LucianJanuary 26, 2012

According to Strategy Analytics, a  market research company, Android managed to capture a whooping 39% market share in Q4 last year, or to be more exact – 10.5 million Android tablets were sold in Q4. Apple maintained its lead at 58% market share, but for how long?

So what helped Android tablets surge so much? The biggest factor in this rise is definitely the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet which was a phenomenal success that surprised even Amazon. The reason Kindle Fire was so successful is because it was a decent tablet that sold for less than half the price of an iPad – $200. While there is a portion of the population who can afford and want an Apple product like the iPad, there will always be more people don’t see the point in spending laptop-level prices for a tablet, especially when they can pay much less for one.

These people are also the same people who don’t care about the latest app that appears in the iOS ecosystem, and want to use it mainly for browsing the web, checking e-mail and watching videos and movies on it. Amazon provides that with all their content, and so does Google increasingly more as they get more involved in the content industry. Google now has music, movies, books, and soon they’ll even have premium Youtube channels to keep people entertained (although I hope they will treat the books business more seriously, because they really aren’t right now).

I wish Google and the other Android manufacturers would have realized the potential of the under-$250 tablets, but it probably wasn’t until the firesale of the HP Touchpad when they all started to figure it out. Most people just don’t need all the most cutting edge specs thrown together in a tablet, and they’d be willing to pay much less for 80% of the functionality.

There are manufacturers who are even starting to release $100  Android 4.0 tablets right now. I believe Ice Cream Sandwich will be a big factor in helping Android capture even more market share in 2012, together with these lower-end tablets. Of course, we’ll still be able to see more expensive tablets at $400-$500 tablets that will better compete with the iPad in features for people who want the most cutting edge tech in their tablets, such as quad core chips, Full HD displays, and so on. This year should be the year when Android finally surpasses the iPad in market share.

  • AppleFUD

    The only way I see apple maintaining a market lead in tablets is if they do the same thing there that they’ve done with the iphone–give away and old version (or very cheap) with medium & high priced versions however, I don’t seem them doing that with tables for one specific reason. They ARE NOT subsidized by the carriers and as we all know, apple will not sacrifice it’s profit margin for anything–heck if they won’t do if for civilized working conditions don’t expect if for anything else (NYT peace on apple’s labor practices: ).

    The competition will be MS & Android and it looks like MS is hell bent on screwing their tablet OS as much as possible.

    • “The only way I see apple maintaining a market lead in tablets is if they do the same thing there that they’ve done with the iphone–give away and old version (or very cheap)…”

      Except that’s not what they’re actually doing. Apple still gets a very nice payment from the carriers for each iPhone activated, and the sales tax on the receipt will reflect that. Shaving off $100 from the $600 purchase price is relatively trivial.

      Apple’s average price for iPhones ROSE slightly in Q4. The lower-cost models make great marketing sense but are not much of the mix.

      • AppleFUD

        You obviously did not follow my comment.

        You essentially stated exactly what I said–the carriers subsidize the iphone, all versions. While apple isn’t “giving” them away, the carriers *subsidize* the iphone so the customer gets a free or $99 device.

  • 8PAQ

    Counting Kindle Fire as Android makes as sense as counting RIM Playbook as Android. Kindle Fire is a thorn in Google’s side. It gives Google’s competitor a free starting point for an OS that will then compete with Google services and fragment their developers because of diverging codelines in the future.

    • AppleFUD

      Android was created so things exactly like the Kindle Fire could be created–it’s an open platform that gives everyone an equal opportunity to compete. Google’s main hope is that more people get on the web and use Google search and other services (web based services) that can’t be blocked by a custom skin. They created Android because Apple was going to block Google’s ads and services and create a walled garden in which they would get a cut of anyone making money through that platform even if it was via the web and MS, well they clearly are going to push their services just as they did with IE years ago. This would have killed Google as they know the future is in mobile devices.

      Clearly they know not everyone will go 100% with them when using Android and they are OK with it because at least it allows for an open ecosystem in which they can compete and customers have access to Google’s services.

      • “Android was created so things exactly like the Kindle Fire could be created…”

        Close, but no cigar. Google bought and revamped Android to keep the then-dominant mobile OS provider, Microsoft, from locking Google out of mobile search. To actually disrupt Microsoft (which had trumped Palm’s and others’ approaches with a cheap, OEM-independent OS), Google went the next step, to “free.”

        This required tolerating a certain amount of nuisance such as some phones having Bing integrated, to show OEMs they could work independently of Google’s control. But who knows where that story is, now that Google will buy MMI.

        Specifically, while the Fire does NOT lock customers away from Google, the Silk browser tech means that Google doesn’t get to build its user-specific database nearly as effectively, and therefore, that its ads are less effective. I.e., Fire-using eyeballs command a lower price on Google’s auction block.

        This is a big deal. The category is growing at a furious rate, versus sales of Windows PCs dropping over 8% during Q4 (and NOT all of that was due to the Thai disaster, BTW). And tablet users are MUCH heavier internet users than smartphone users. Google already acknowledged that iOS accounted for 2/3 of its mobile accesses; the fraction that they “control” is likely to be much less a year from now. Rather than pushing Google stores to compete with Amazon, or aggressively subsidizing killer competitors to the iPhone, they will watch out to play more nicely.

        • AppleFUD

          Google builds its database on the server side, not client. It doesn’t matter if they are using safari, silk, chrome, or any other browser as long as they are able to visit Google services.

          Certainly Amazon can get in on the action via their own browser–while not Google’s perfect scenario it is much better than a total lock out.

          The whole point, as you confirmed, is that Google needed to do something to create a platform that allowed for competition in which they themselves could compete and have access to users. And that, in a nutshell, is what Android is about–competition. Well, at least that’s the song and dance they’ve given.

          your last paragraph makes no sense.