Based on current market trends, Google's mobile operating system is unstoppable.
After dominating the smartphone scene, Android is poised to take over the tablet market and further help push PC sales off the cliff, according to new research data from Canalys. In 2014, Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 will account for 65 percent of the tablet market, with 185 million units in circulation.
Mirroring its perch atop the smartphone market, Samsung is number one in Android tablets. The company, according to the research group, "continues to lead with strong year-on-year growth coming from its broad tablet portfolio." During the third quarter of 2013, the South Korean electronics maker nabbed 27 percent of the Android tablet market.
Samsung's grip may start to slip as major rivals and smaller companies alike start gunning for it. "With the cost and time-to-market advantages afforded by their Chinese supply chain, these small-to-micro brand vendors are eating up tablet market share," said Canalys' James Wang, a Shanghai-based analyst, in a statement.
And expect tumbling prices to exert added pressure. "Vendors such as Acer, Asus, HP, and Lenovo have all entered the price war, with entry-level products at sub-U$150 price points," added Wang.
Microsoft will see its share of the tablet market grow to 5 percent in 2014 from 2 percent in 2012. "2014 will see another major shift for the company as the Nokia acquisition brings it a step closer to being a fully-fledged smart mobile device vendor," stated Canalys research analyst Pin Chen Tang.
Although Apple's share is expected to dwindle, in both the PC and tablet categories, its coffers should remain full, suggested the research firm. Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Coulling weighed in, saying "Apple is one of the few companies making money from the tablet boom."
"Premium products attract high value consumers; for Apple, remaining highly profitable and driving revenue from its entire ecosystem is of greater importance than market share statistics," concluded Coulling.
When lumped into the client PC category (desktops, notebooks, and tablets), tablets will come close to outnumbering notebook and desktop systems in 2014. Canalys forecasts that tablets shipments will near the 50 percent mark next year. In the third quarter of 2013, tablets made up 40 percent of client PC shipments, "less than half a million units behind global notebook shipments," noted the company.
Looking ahead, the company expects tablet shipments to reach 285 million units in 2014 and expand to 396 million units in 2017.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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