In the fourth quarter of 2011 tablet shipments worldwide peaked at 26.8 million, a 150 percent increase from just one year prior. Perhaps no single entity was the greater beneficiary of the continued shift towards tablet computing than was Google. Android-based slates jumped from a 29 percent share of the market in 2010 to a 39.1 percent share for Q4 2012, accounting for 10.5 million of all tablets sold. The numbers represent the great diversity of tablet computers now available, but there is still only one king in this castle. While the iPad saw a decline of roughly 10 percent, sales of the Apple device still took an overwhelming majority of the market with 57.6 percent. Total sales for the iPad in Q4 amounted to 15.4 million.
A large boost came from strong holiday sales of the Amazon Kindle Fire, the $200 media machine. If buzz surrounding the device has Apple sweating, they aren’t showing their hand. They have taken the stance that the iPad appeals to folks looking for a more powerful tablet and willing to spend the extra money to get it.
While increased awareness and marketing as well as quality contributed to Android’s growth, the number of new Android tablets introduced last year made an increase in market share for Google’s OS inevitable. We’ve seen the trend before with Android smartphones as they played catch up with the iPhone and eventually surpassed the device to hold the worldwide market. Will we see the same for tablets? If Android can’t overtake the iPad, there should at least come a time when it can match Apple’s sales blow-for-blow.