Android tablets grab 20 percent share

Android tablets have collectively grabbed 20 percent of the market, but no single tablet maker can compete with Apple, says a report from ABI Research.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
3 min read

Android tablets have captured 20 percent of the market from the iPad over the past year, but no single tablet has yet been able to challenge Apple's flagship product, says ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr.

Android's tablet market share is growing but none can compete with the iPad.
Android's tablet market share is growing but none can compete with the iPad. Apple

In a report out yesterday, Orr pointed to high prices as one factor that has stifled demand for individual Android tablets.

"Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple," Orr said in a statement. "In fact, most have introduced products at prices higher than similarly-configured iPads. Apple, never a company to be waiting for others, has introduced its second-generation iPad media tablet while keeping product pricing unchanged."

The analyst also blamed fragmentation of the Android OS for stalling overall app development.

From Froyo to Gingerbread to Honeycomb, three different versions of Google's mobile OS can currently be found on different tablets. This presents a challenge to app developers who are forced to pick a specific version and may hold off on development based on the market potential of a given version.

"The benefits of open software platform development have yet to be realized for media tablets," according to ABI.

Google is, of course, hoping to defragment some of that fragmentation with the upcoming release of Ice Cream Sandwich, the first flavor of Android designed for both smartphones and tablets with different features and sizes. The latest rumors claim that Google is rushing to launch Ice Cream Sandwich by October to help the market and also counter any threats posed by Apple's next iPhone.

Related stories:
Is Google rushing to unwrap Ice Cream Sandwich?
Ice Cream Sandwich First Take
Android tablets will grow, but iPad to dominate

Finally, Orr believes that the onslaught of cheaper Android tablets released this year raises doubts among consumers over their functionality.

"De-featured, low-cost media tablets are being introduced by more than fifty vendors in 2011," the analyst said. "This will certainly help bolster year-over-year growth for the category, but it also creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years."

Seeing Android tablets as still in the "early adopter stage," Orr says that more positive user experiences are needed to help push the market forward.

The iPad's share of the market had topped off at around 96 percent in last year's second quarter when Archos tablets provided the only real competition, according to a spokesman from ABI.

By the first quarter of 2011, the iPad's share had shrunk to a still high 73.3 percent, according to ABI, with Samsung's Galaxy Tab grabbing around 12.5 percent of the market.

A report from Needham analyst Charlie Wolf earlier this week expressed a somewhat similar outlook. Eyeing an 85 percent share for the iPad this year overall, Wolf believes Apple will lose some of its dominance to Android over the next several years but will still grab 60 percent of the tablet market by 2020. The analyst pointed to the iPad's price and huge app market as key factors in its favor.

Updated 11:15 a.m. PT with ABI data on iPad's market share.