Android Takes Apple’s Crown as Top Tablet OS

Apple iOS has lost out to Google’s Android operating system, which already dominates the smartphone market, as the world’s top tablet OS. Is the giant really losing its grip? …


For long, Google’s Android operating system has been the leader in the smartphone OS race with Apple a distant second. New data published by research firm Gartner now shows that Android has finally conquered the tablet operating system (OS) market as well, surpassing the traditionally dominant force of Apple’s iOS system.

The research shows that sales of tablets running Google’s OS shot up by a dramatic 127 per cent over the course of last year, meaning that close to 121 million Android-running devices were sold to end users in 2013. That equates to just under 62 per cent of the market share – an impressive jump from the previous year, when Android could only command 46 per cent.

But iOS appears to be suffering at the expense of its rival. Market share plummeted from 53 per cent in 2012 to just 36 per cent this year. That doesn’t mean that fewer tablets were sold; in fact, 70.4 million units were sold in 2013, representing a jump of nearly nine million in 12 months. But in a market which expanded by a striking 68 per cent and where Android devices sales more than doubled, that really is a drop in the ocean.


Ultimately, Android’s success comes down to diversity and price. Apple only makes one tablet, and the iPad is more expensive than many of the most popular devices that run on Android. Google’s OS a popular choice among manufacturers of lower-cost items, and Gartner says the massive growth in the tablet market was fuelled almost entirely by low-end units with smaller screens.

“In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications,” says Roberta Cozza, Gartner research director.


So does this mean Apple is losing its hold on the technology it pioneered with the early iPads? Well, the California-based firm is still by far the most popular single manufacturer. Nearly twice as many iPads were sold as their nearest rival – Samsung sold just 37.4 million tablets. Apple devices are selling remarkably well even at the top end of the price spectrum – and as the iPad mini grows in popularity it will eat into the small-screen market.

What’s more, no other manufacturer has yet reached Apple’s heights in terms of brand loyalty. It actively encourages this through its full ecosystem offerings – the ability to harmonise a range of different devices on a single system will keep iOS in the game, at least for Apple fans.


<Image courtesy Quinn Dombrowski/Some rights reserved>

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