Android gains momentum in the tablet market as Apple loses ground

Apple iPad mini

Apple's share of the tablet market has started to decline as Android-based rivals are fast catching up in the third quarter of this year.

The iPad's market share saw a drop of 15.1 per cent to 50.4 per cent, according to figures released by research company IDC. However, Apple still managed to shift 14 million iPads in the three month period, almost three times its nearest rival.

Samsung and Amazon led the charge against their bitter Cupertino rival. The Korean firm shipped 5.1 million tablets during the quarter. Amazon managed to ship 2.5 million tablets from its Kindle stable.

While Apple saw a drop in demand for iPads, IDC noted this was down to customers holding out for the iPad mini as well as new versions of the iPad.

"After a very strong second quarter, Apple saw growth slow as both consumer and commercial (including education) shipments declined, and rumours of a forthcoming iPad Mini began to heat up," said Tom Mainelli, research director of Tablets at IDC.

"We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the iPad mini. Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter.'

But he warned that the iPad Mini's relatively high 269 starting price left plenty of room for Android vendors to build upon the success they achieved in the third quarter.

The market in tablets increased 49.5 per cent year on year, with the top five Android vendors all seeing a growth in shipments. Samsung saw a 325 per cent growth whilst Asus, which makes the Google Nexus 7, saw a growth of 243 per cent.

Ryan Reith, program manager, IDC's Mobile Device Trackers said that with the recent introduction of a number of Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, consumers now have a "third viable tablet platform" from which to choose.

"However, price points are critical in tablets, and Microsoft and its partners will have a tough time winning a share of consumer wallet with price points starting at $500," he said.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.