The iPad is still the dominant force in the tablet industry. However, a report issued Wednesday from ABI Research indicates that the iPad’s lead over Android tablets has narrowed to the slimmest margin since 2010.
In ABI’s report, the market research firm estimates that Apple’s share of the worldwide tablet market has dropped 55 percent in Q3 2012. That sounds great doesn’t it? Compare it to the 69 percent share that Apple held in Q2 2012 and things aren’t quite so rosy, though.
Android rose to 44 percent during Q3 2012, according to ABI’s data.
This isn’t a single sampling, either. In late October, Strategy Analytics said Apple’s iPad global market share had dropped to 57 percent, with Android rising to 41 percent.
ABI analyst Jeff Orr cast doubt on beliefs that the iPad mini will turn around the trend. He said:
With the introduction of a smaller, lower-cost iPad mini, Apple has acknowledged Android’s beachhead of 7-inch-class tablets, though at the same time, it has failed to deliver a knock-out punch through innovation, pricing, and availability during the most critical selling period of the year.
As the OS of choice for the majority of device OEMs, we expect the Android ecosystem to continue growing in numbers – new manufacturers, better device choices for reaching more markets, and more developers finding value from apps and content.
Indeed, these numbers seem hard to believe, especially when those in the U.S. use their eyes, which seem (note the word seem) to report about a 100:1 ratio between iOS and Android tablets.
However, it’s always been believed — since the introduction of the iPad in 2010, in fact — that Android would eventually eclipse the iPad. Early predictions, though, tended to point to 2015 or 2016 as the period in which Android tablets would overtake iPad sales. This new report points to a date that could be as early as next year.
It’s true that new, cheaper, and faster performing hardware and better tablet versions of Android are certainly helping. Sales of the new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7 are strong, and point to an upsurge in Android tablet interest.
Earlier this month, in fact, Finvista Advisors analyst Sameer Singh predicted just that: Apple will lose its global tablet crown to Android in 2013.
Remember though, these are global numbers, and a look at the local Starbucks still shows a strong iPad market share. The enterprise, as well, is still strongly in the iPad (vs. Android) world.