Google’s Android tablets steal a march on Apple

APPLICABILITY::Despite its increased share of the tablet market, Android still lags far behind Apple in the availability of fully-optimized tablet apps, experts said

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Aug 06, 2013 - Page 14

Shipments of tablet PCs running Google Inc’s Android operating system surpassed those of Apple Inc’s iPad in the second quarter, thanks to the popularity of smaller models, according to research firm Canalys.

More than 34 million tablets were shipped globally in the April-to-June period, a 43 percent increase from the same period last year, Canalys said in a report on Thursday last week.

Apple, which created the tablet market with its iPad, saw its market share drop to 43 percent during the second quarter, with tablet shipments falling 14 percent from a year earlier to 14.6 million units.

By contrast, Android-based tablets accounted for 53 percent of the global market, as shipments from Samsung Electronics Co, Inc, Lenovo Group Ltd and Taiwan’s Acer Inc (宏碁) each grew annually by more than 200 percent, driven by increasing demand for small-screen tablets, Canalys said.

Canalys estimated that 68 percent of tablets shipped in the second quarter had a screen size smaller than nine inches.

“When Apple does decide to refresh its iPad range it will not experience the buzz of previous launches,” Canalys analyst James Wang said in the report.

“Tablets are now mainstream products and hardware innovation is increasingly difficult. With branded Android tablets available for less than US$150, the PC market has never been so good for consumers, who are voting with their wallets,” he said.

Despite its 53 percent share, Android still lags far behind Apple’s iOS platform in the availability of fully-optimized tablet apps, and tablet app downloads from the Apple App Store dwarf those from Google Play, Canalys said.

However, Android is expected to continue to close the ecosystem lead iOS has in tablets and increase its share in coming quarters, the research company said.

Another survey conducted by display research firm WitsView said that the iPad market share dropped to 35.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, a new low.

That was because Apple’s 9.7-inch regular iPad entered the end of its lifecycle in the second quarter, while the 7.9-inch iPad Mini’s relatively higher price also contributed to slower sales, WitsView said.