Android leaps to the top of the tablet market

Android leaps to the top of the tablet market
The Nexus 7 still remains one of the most popular Android tablets today. Despite strong sales from the iPad mini, Apple’s marketshare has still dropped by 16%

The iPad has long been at the pinnacle of tablet sales, helping Apple take a commanding lead over Android sales – until now. A recent report by research firm Gartner has shown Android to surpass Apple and become the number one operating system in terms of tablet sales. The Android operating system now equates for 62% of all tablets sold across the world, with a total of 121 million tablets sold in 2013. This is a massive jump from the 57 million sold worldwide in 2012. This is compared to Apple, who has seen its total tablet sales last year fall to 70 million and its overall market share drop to 36%.

Analysts at Gartner have found the large number of quality budget tablets that run the Android OS to be a large factor in this increase. Companies like Samsung and Google still pave the way with their quality yet affordable tablets, but it’s emerging manufacturers, such as Tesco, who make cost-friendly tablets at highly discounted prices. The market demand for such devices is incredible, with the likes of Tesco’s Hudl tablet going through patches of being unavailable in nearly every single one of its stores. The range of choice from these manufacturers vastly outweigh the offerings from Apple, despite the iPad still being a strong brand. “In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android tablets being within the budget of everyday consumers while still offering quality,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. “In 2014, it will be critical for manufacturers to focus on device experience and solid technology to prevail.”

Another area in which Android tablet sales have been prolific is within emerging markets. Many countries in Africa and Asia now have access to budget Android tablets where they normally wouldn’t. These devices offer very basic features at budget prices. Within the same report by Gartner, it’s claimed that emerging markets recorded growth of 145% in 2013, where in developed and mature markets, there was growth of just 31%. Again, much of the growth found in mature markets stems from budget tablets, namely the Nexus 7.

With many more Android tabs announced for release this year and the inevitable release of a new Nexus and second Hudl device, we can expect sales to increase even further for the Android OS. With Windows being a distant third in terms of tablet sales, the race for tablet supremacy is very much between Android and Apple, but is there any visible way that Apple can turn it around? In terms of quality vs quantity, it’s the latter that seems to be winning, and one that Apple needs to address drastically if it wants to come out on top.