Android is lord of the tablets

Figures from Gartner say that while tablet sales grew 68 percent in 2013 it appears that Android is the big winner.

Big G said that worldwide sales of tablets to end users reached 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68 percent increase on 2012.

Sales of iOS tablets grew in the fourth quarter of 2013, iOS’s share declined to 36 percent in 2013. This is because tablet growth in 2013 was fuelled by the low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers rather than those who want to mortgage their house to buy another overpriced toy.

History will look back on 2013 and say it was the year that tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications, Big G said.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said that as the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditised, in 2014, it was critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value. Otherwise, they are going to lose brand loyalty and improved margins, she said.

In 2013, the share of Apple’s iOS dropped 16.8 percentage points as the market demand was driven by the improved quality of smaller low-cost tablets from branded vendors, and white-box products continued to grow in emerging markets.

Gartner analysts said emerging markets recorded growth of 145 per cent in 2013, while mature markets grew 31 percent.

“Apple’s tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple’s approach will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share”, Cozza said.

In 2013, Microsoft’s tablet volumes improved but share remained small. Despite Microsoft now acting more rapidly to evolve Windows 8.1, its “egosystem” still failed to capture major consumers’ interest on tablets.

“To compete, Microsoft needs to create compelling ecosystem proposition for consumers and developers across all mobile devices, as tablets and smartphones become key devices for delivering applications and services to users beyond the PC,” said Cozza.

Microsoft is better in the ultramobiles market which are more productivity oriented, where its partners are ramping up new form factors and designs.

The tablet market has become a challenging environment for branded hardware-driven players. They are squeezed by service-driven and content-driven players, and aggressive prices from white-box vendors. In addition, a situation where the top two tablet vendors have captured 55 percent of the market in 2013 compounds the challenge, the report said.

Samsung exhibited the highest growth of the worldwide tablet vendors, at 336 percent, in 2013. The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablets, together with strong marketing and promotions, helped Samsung bridge the gap with Apple.