Android Tablets Take A Bite Out of Apple in Latest Numbers

The iPad's dominance in the tablet market took a hit this past fourth quarter as Google's Android powered tablets jumped from 2.3 percent of tablets shipped up to 22 percent. Apple's iPad dropped from 95 percent to 75 percent in the quarter, said market researcher Strategy Analytics.

A wider range of devices with Google features like YouTube and Google Maps will probably erode the iPad's market dominance, said Neil Mawston, director of Strategy Analytics. Its share of the global tablet market will probably drop to 67 percent this quarter, he said. In an interview Mawston reiterated his opinion, "Apple's volumes will continue to go up, but market share will inevitably go down. Even at $500 retail, based on some research we've done, that's probably two or three times more than what most mass market consumers are expecting to pay."

This trend will likely continue as customers will clamor to get their hands on tablets and looking for cheaper iPad alternatives. With so many companies like Samsung, Toshiba, Dell, and Acer pushing out Android tablets Apple will have a tough time maintaining its overwhelming lead in the market.

The Wi-Fi only iPad with 16 gigabytes is the lowest end version Apple has, at $499. Jim Wong, Acer's head of information, Acer is planning to unveil an Android tablet in April for $299. Google's approach is to give Android away for free so that it can boost revenue from services like mobile advertising and expand the market for its search engine.

The tablet market is about to explode says research firm ISuppli, who predicts 57 million tablets will be sold this year and 171 million in 2014. I'm sure Apple is rushing to put the next generation of the iPad out there to stave off all the challengers to its crown as king of the tablet market.

"If you were to ask me in two years time, will Apple have less than 50 percent of the global tablet market, I think that's a certainty," Mawston said.

[Via Businessweek]