Android Leads as Tablet Sales Jumped 68 Percent in 2013: Gartner

Surging demand for low-cost mini tablets helped Google's Android mobile operating system claim the top spot last year.

While the iPad remains popular in the workplace, the latest tablet sales statistics from Gartner indicate that businesses will want to give Android the same attention, if not more, as they manage their BYOD programs.

Apple's reign of the mobile device market came to a definitive end last year as rival vendors outsold the iPad with tablets based on the Google's Android operating system. Android already dominates smartphone sales.

Gartner today announced that vendors had sold 195.4 million tablets in 2013, a hefty 68 percent gain over 2012. Apple's share of the tablet market slipped to 36 percent, allowing Android to claim the top spot with 62 percent.

Thanks to a wide selection of not only affordable but also quite capable Android devices, "tablets became a mainstream phenomenon" last year, said Gartner research director Roberta Cozza in a statement. This year, she cautions, vendors will need to shift from their race-to-the-bottom pricing strategy.

"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," added Cozza.

And don't count Apple out. "Apple's tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple's approach 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," said Cozza.

Despite losing the crown to Android, the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker nonetheless managed to rack up more tablet sales than its rivals.

Apple placed first in the 2013 tablet sales race with 70.4 million iPads sold, nearly 9 million more units than the year prior. Samsung took the number two spot with 37.4 million and 19.1 percent of the market. Rounding out the top five are Asus, Amazon and Lenovo.

Tablet based on Microsoft's Windows OS fared better in 2013, but still are a blip on the radar.

All told, 4 million Windows tablets were sold in 2013 for 2.1 percent of the market compared to 1.1 million units and a 1 percent share in 2012. Cozza notes that despite Microsoft' rapid-fire rate of Windows updates, consumer interest remains low. "To compete, Microsoft needs to create compelling ecosystem proposition for consumers and developers across all mobile devices, as tablets and smartphones become key devices for delivering applications and services to users beyond the PC," she advised.

There is a silver lining. Due to Microsoft's pursuit of business-flavored convertible and hybrid devices, the software giant "enjoys better shares in ultramobiles that are more productivity oriented, where its partners are ramping up new form factors and designs," stated Gartner.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.




Tags: Android, smartphones, Apple, tablets


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