iPad stays top tablet: Faces growing Android challenge as Amazon circles

Apple's iPad continues to dominate the tablet market, with global shipments up to 9.3m units according to the latest figures, though its percentage marketshare has declined by over 33-percent thanks to increasing competition from consumer-centric rivals. 61.3-percent of tablets sold worldwide run iOS, analysts Strategy Analytics calculate, with Android taking the lion's share of what remains, at 30.1-percent.

Android's rise from Q2 2010 is significant, with the Google platform on just 2.9-percent of the tablets a year ago and seeing shipping numbers of just 100,000 units. The analysts now believe that 4.6m Android tablets were sold in Q2, not least because of the dedicated tablet version of the OS, 3.x Honeycomb, which was designed specifically to suit larger-screen devices.

Despite generally negative reviews, Windows 7 holds third place, with a reported 4.6-percent of the marketshare. That puts it ahead of QNX, the platform RIM has used for the BlackBerry PlayBook, which lags in fourth place with 3.3-percent. Strategy Analytics blame the absence of key apps like a native email client on the PlayBook for its placement

Since the figures detail Q2 2011 – April through June inclusive – newer slates like the HP TouchPad don't get a look in. Looking forward, the Android tablet segment is open to a single, dominant vendor, and there are suggestions that it could well be Amazon. "If Amazon decides to enter the Android tablet category later this year, that will bring fresh excitement and buzz to the Android community" Neil Mawston, Director at Strategy Analytics suggests, "but Amazon will need to deliver a truly standout offering if it really wants to make headway against the popular iPad."