Tablet market share

There were more Android-based tablets shipped in Q1 2013 than all others combined, and here's why that matters

The Q1 2013 numbers from IDC, a technology and telecommunications research firm who keeps track of this sort of thing, show that Android tablets now lead the market with a 56.5-percent share. The 27,800,000 units shipped in the quarter is a 247-percent improvement from this time last year, when just 8,000,000 units were shipped. It's important to note that this increase doesn't come at the expense of Apple, who shipped 65.3-percent more tablets in Q1 2013 than they did in Q1 2012 -- it shows the market is growing, and the lions share of new purchases are Android.

These sorts of numbers make CEOs and people who count pennies pretty happy, and will be the fuel for fanboy wars across the Internet, but why are they important? I'll tell you why -- because the available selection of applications designed for Android tablets sucks.

Google keeps telling developers exactly how to build their app to take advantage of the real estate on a tablet, but because there weren't that many out there, nobody listened. Sure, there are some really great applications done "right" and look fabulous on our tablets, but most of them are just the phone version blown up to fill the seven or ten inch screen on your tablet with unused white space. Have a look at iPad apps, and you'll know exactly what I mean.

Hopefully, with more Android tablets being sold than any others, developers will take notice and change this. You simply can't afford to ignore over half the market, and we saw what happened when Android took the phone market away from everyone else. I'm looking for big things now that we can no longer be ignored.

Source: IDC


Reader comments

IDC: Android now leads the tablet market with a 56.5% share


What a ridiculous, fanboyish statement. Android tablets could "flood" the market all they want, and if the product wasn't compelling no one would buy it. Maybe the real issue is that Apple's tablets have been overpriced, and people are turning to a viable alternative. It's no secret that the iPad with the fastest growing sales is the iPad mini. Android is growing the market, and it's no surprise that the marketshare numbers largely mirror those of smartphones now. People's preferences are becoming clear.

Well to be fair Apple is the only company that reports tablets SOLD not shipped. Also they're the leading tablet manufacturer also. Generally in public, work, and college all I would say 85% percent of the tablets I see in use are iPads.

Keep in mind that Apple sold 22.9 million tablets in Q4, so their sales are going down while Android's are still rapidly going up every quarter. Whether sold or shipped doesn't matter much, because if shipments are steadily going up every quarter you know they aren't sitting around in someone's inventory. Retailers are ordering more because they are being sold.

To your second point, that's only because Apple refuses to allow anyone else to make iOS products. That's an initial strong point for them, but it ALWAYS becomes a weak point in the end, as multiple competitors all working with the same core product will eventually drive innovation faster than Apple can keep up. We saw this happen in computers, and we didn't in MP3 players for that reason: no one else standardized on the same core.

Get used to seeing this, because sometime next year you will see more Android tablets in people's hands than iPads. 2/3rds of the new ones bought this year will be Android, not iOS. Apple's lawsuits have come back to haunt them, as all they did was help build even more awareness to Android tablets.

I'm seeing that shift though. I take a commuter rail into Boston every day for work, and I am seeing far more Android slates than I used to, especially of the 7-inch variety.

So many cheap crappy android tablets. There's tons of company's making android tablets. You can buy lots for less than $100. Also who really cares?

I really don't care for these "Market share" reports that focus on recent sales. Are we to believe that the 12 months after the next iPad is released that suddenly Apple grew the market SO MUCH that they took their 40% to 60% overall?

These numbers are good relative to themselves to measure growth but what really matters is what's out there and being used, and Android still has a long way to go for tablets.

Groups like IDC and Kantar have IMO flawed methodology in their usage of the phrase "Market share" because it's so dependent on what was released during that cycle. The 12 weeks following release from company X put them the "Market leader" which is BS, and the next cycle is company Y because that's when theirs came out. Very misleading and I wish people who did this kind of reporting would stop confusing people.

no, Apple grew their market share SO MUCH that it went from 60% to 40%. 1Q2013 is first, then 1Q2012.

But yes, it is very deceiving.

Well find some numbers you DO like and post them here.

Look, people want to measure this, and the use the numbers that are available and marry them up with other research. Don't like their approach? Find a better one.

True, some ridiculous predictions are often made based on nothing but smoke and mirrors, but most people can figure this out. Take this report for example: Just days ago one Apple Blog was predicting "Peak Android".

The moment the iPad gets a stylus integrated in it's hardware...the game changes again. And when they do... guess who they copied. The game NEVER ends until someone dies (i.e. WebOS)

I don't know why you have a problem with them, as they make perfect sense. The only real numbers that anyone can calculate for "market share" are what's being sold. The reason they count what's sold over the last quarter (or year) is that these are electronics. They break, they get lost, they stop being used, etc. Once a product has been in a customer's hands for a long period of time who knows what's being done with it? What matters is what's being sold NOW, as that is what tells companies, developers, etc. what products are trending...what consumers really want.

At the end of the day, any company that looks to have a stable stock price needs to have sales during EVERY quarter in spite of the natural ebb and flow of product releases. If your product completely tanks every time a competitor releases their new shiny bits then it wasn't very competitive in the first place. Example: Galaxy S3 sales ROSE after the iPhone 5 was released. For Android tablets to sell approx. 20 million more tablets last quarter than they did the year before is not dependent on what Apple released! That's more than what Apple sold PERIOD, so that is not misleading at all.

Lastly, these reports are not done for free. Many, many companies PAY these companies a LOT of money to do the market research they do. Money talks, so it is evident that they find the numbers very relevant and far from misleading.

Something doesn't add up about these numbers.

I'm no apple fan but I just don't see hardly anybody else using non iPads in the real world .. And how come the browser usage charts do not reflect the above as well... Or do android tablet users not use the web? I've seen one nexus user ... And literally hundreds of iPad users on the public transport and office where I work.

The only android tablets selling in any volume is the nexus and kindle, and we all know the sales numbers are nowhere near 8 million in a quarter, with Samsung tablets selling even less (Samsung have said as much)

Perhaps if you look at which companies sponsor these IDC reports you will find the answer....

I go to a hall for study 2-3 times a week. Many there use tablets (ranging from young to older). There are 2 Nexus 7s, one Toshiba Thrive (I know, I know...), 2 Acer A200s, one Transformer Pad 300 (my own), a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and two Apple iPad 3s. And another Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

So LOTS of Android tabs are out there. I'm in Canada, by the way. ;)

Well, you have to remember that these are just the number for this quarter. Android has 57% market share for the first 3 months of the year, but overall there are a lot more ipads out there. Android outsold Apple for one quarter, but Apple has been outselling Android for a few years - and by a large margin for most of that time.


This is why calling it "Market Share" is very misleading. It would probably be better worded some other way like "Leads Quarter Sales" or some such.

There are a LOT more iPads out there than Android tablets, and it will probably remain that way for at least another few years.... perhaps longer.

But this is still very significant, and should make software developers and consumers alike take notice.

This is the second quarter that the newest iPad has been out. If Android only captured the market for one quarter, you'd expect it to be Q3. Unless Android does control the market for 3 (or even 4) quarters.

Expect this to be the new norm. Most Android phone users are not buying iPads anymore. They are buying Android tablets. When even non-techies are asking me about Foxfi to connect their Galaxy Note 10 or Kindle Fire HD then the market has shifted. Expect this to mirror the smartphone market from now on.

Considering how long the iPad has been sold, I am actually surprised that the numbers have already become about 50/50 iOS/Android among the people I know. There are a LOT of Kindle Fire's out there now, and the Nexus 7, Galaxy Tab 10, and Transformer are all represented as well. Many Android users were just late to the tablet party, and some didn't see the need considering their phone's screen was plenty large to them. Now that they are buying in droves, you will see that most Android phone users are buying Android tablets to go with them.

One more note: remember that this is not American sales. This is worldwide. The only region in the world that is all gaga over iOS products is the US. Travel a bit, and you will see the truth of the matter.

RE:Browser usage charts. I don't know how that data is gathered, so is it possible that when I force my Tablet to display the desktop version of a site it is then misreporting?

You also have to realize that your sample - public transport - might have a bias. My sample, where I work in a Tech Support department, is HEAVILY biased Android.

yeah I agree, and specially about the Samsung part, and they are the closest OEM even selling to that number, their galaxy line is the only android tablets with best sellers and great reviews on bestbuy.

so these numbers don't add up, how does such a big change occur over 1 year. BestBuy still has the iPad2 as best selling tablet -_-

im rooting for windows anywho, I would love all 3 companies up there competing

Read the article. This isn't overall market (i.e. total devices sold or in use). These are sales/shipment numbers for one quarter. Apple still has more tablets in consumers hands, but right now (and probably into the future), Android tablets are seling more quickly. In time, there will be more Android tablets in consumers hands than Apple tablets, the same switch in market share that happened a couple years ago with smartphones.

I bet some of these doubters don't buy into the Global Warming discussion either. "I mean.. it was just a nice day yesterday...!!" (1st Corinthians 7:31)

Anyone know where I can find a "Taps" .mp3?

Did the number include kindle's? I don't know anyone with an Android tablet (Other the myself) These numbers don't seem possible. Apple sold 18Mil ipads this past quarter...and Android out did them? I'm finding this hard to believe.

Kindle fire, yes, Kindles, no.
I don't know anyone with an iPad, everyone I know has an Android tablet. Mostly Nexus 7's (I still haven't seen an iPad mini in the wild).

Considering I bought 2 Nexus 7s(little sister cracked first one and was cheaper to buy a new one than fix it), my sister bought a Nexus 7, and my mom bought a Nexus 10 all since July, and the number of Kindle Fire HDs out there is crazy, this doesn't surprise me much.

Loving the Windows numbers. Doesn't seem like the 200,000 hours invested in Windows 8 don't seem to be paying off so well. I don't mind much about Android beating Apple cause whether you like it or not there is nothing too wrong about their tablets. They don't have widgets or NFC, but there are ways around that.
I don't understand why adambionic thinks Google could be evil. I don't think giving you freeish services or products in exchange for ad-clicks is all that bad.