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By 4 March 2014 | Categories: news

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Hold on to your hats for a shocker Apple fans – according to Gartner, the Cupertino company doesn’t rule the roost anymore when it comes to tablets.

The IT research company reported that while tablet sales grew a sizable 68% in 2013 (no surprise there) up to 195 million units, it was Android tablets that garnered the lion’s share (62%) of the tablet market, rather than iOS devices.

According to the company, while sales of iOS tablets grew in the fourth quarter of 2013, thanks no doubt to the release of the iPad Air (review), it wasn’t all good news for Apple, as its OS actually declined - down to 36% in 2013.

Show me the money

Apparently, Android’s saving grace on the tablet scene can be attributed to the growth of the low-end (i.e. budget) smaller screen tablet market, as well as first time buyers.

Both these scenarios played right into Android’s hands; as we have seen numerous very good smaller 7” and even 8” tablets vying for the market, with Android tablet manufacturers placing particular emphasis on offering the highest specs they can at the lowest price possible. One prime example of this is the Nexus 7, offerings from Acer, such as its Iconia A1 (review), and Asus’ FonePad (review). Also complicating matters last year was the release of tablets such as the Galaxy Note 8 (review), which brought a different stylus-orientated spin to the small tablet party

For Apple, Gartner noted that the picture was not quite as rosy, pointing out that in 2013, the share of Apple's iOS dropped 16.8%. That being said, Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, conceded that Apple's tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market.

An Apple a day

Furthermore, Apple is unlikely to go running home crying that Android stole its milk money anytime soon. According to Gartner, the company’s strong fourth quarter managed to keep it on cloud nine, as from a vendor perspective, it retained top position during 2013. Samsung, it was noted, came in at number two, biting at Apple’s heels, and could also boast a staggering 336% growth amongst tablet manufacturers.

So can Android manufacturers rest on their laurels and snack on grapes while gloating at Apple’s demise? Hardly.

Cozza pointed out that Apple's approach to the market “will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share.” She also shared some advice for Android tablet manufacturers who want to retain, or improve on their lead.

"As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."

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