Android wins Q2 tablet battle against Apple and Microsoft

Minus low-price strategies, Apple and Microsoft forever doomed to trail Google

Both Apple- and Windows-branded tablets lost market share in the second quarter, each retreating in the face of increased pressure from Android, a market research analyst said today.

In preliminary estimates for the quarter ending June 30, U.K.-based Strategy Analytics pegged Apple's share of the global tablet market at 28.3%, a dramatic decline from 47.2% the year before. When so-called "white box" tablets, which are almost exclusively powered by Android, are excluded, Apple's share fell to 40.4% from 48.2% in the first quarter of 2013.

Windows' share of the branded tablet market also slipped in the second quarter compared to the first, falling to 6.4% from 7.4%. With white-box tablets included, however, its year-over-year share jumped nine-fold, from a paltry 0.5% in 2012's second quarter to 4.5% in 2013.

Windows tablets had only one way to go when compared year-over-year, as Windows 8 and Windows RT, the two tablet-appropriate operating systems from the Redmond, Wash. company, were not released until late in the third quarter of 2012.

By any measurement, Android solidified its first place position. Of the entire tablet market, including white-box units -- which comprised 37% of all shipments -- Android's share climbed to 67% from 2012's 51.4%. Strip out the white box tablets and Android's increase, while on a slower pace, was still impressive: 52.9% in the second quarter, up from 43.4% in the first three-month stretch of 2013.

Peter King, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, attributed Apple's share decline to a lack of new tablet models, echoing others who have pointed out that the Cupertino, Calif. company has not released a new tablet or even refreshed an existing tablet since late in 2012.

"We may see Apple get back on track later this year if, as everyone expects, they launch new models," said King in an interview Tuesday. "We may start to see a bit of fight back in them."

Windows' problem in tablets has also been well documented.

"They screwed up in terms of sales and marketing," said King, referring to the 2012-13 launch of the Microsoft-made Surface RT and Surface Pro. "They excluded the vast majority of the world from buying it. People want to see a tablet, feel it, touch it, want their friends to buy it."

Instead, Microsoft sold the Surface RT in 2012, and -- starting in early 2013 -- the more expensive Surface Pro, primarily online with a bit of help from its small-sized U.S. and Canadian retail chain.

Tablet share chart
Apple- and Windows-branded tablets lost share in the second quarter to Android, which has a lock on the fast-growing low-priced part of the market. (Data: Strategy Analytics.)
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