Android tablet devices have surpassed those of iOS according to the latest figures from Gartner, seeing a 68% increase in shipments in 2013, compared to 2012. Apple’s iOS on the other hand saw a decline, giving them just a 36% share of the overall market last year.
The growth in Android devices was driven by low-end, smaller screen devices and the entry of more "first-time buyers” into the market. This has given Android a total market share of 62%, according to Gartner analysts.
"In 2013, 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," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner. "As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."
Apple lost out to the tune of 16.8%, as demand increased for lower-priced devices and more white-box products appeared in emerging economies, which saw a growth of 145%. The more mature markets saw an increase of 31% on 2012. According to Cozza, Apple’s products remained strong at the higher end of the market and the iPad mini also performed well.
Whilst Microsoft’s Surface sales improved, the tablet still remains one of the least popular as it failed to capture the imagination of consumers. This was further compounded by the issues surrounding Windows 8 and 8.1.
"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 Ms. Cozza. Microsoft enjoys better shares in ultramobiles that are more productivity oriented, where its partners are ramping up new form factors and designs.
When it comes to manufacturers, Apple retained top place, whilst Samsung came is as second most popular and saw the highest growth at 336%. This, the researchers say, is due to the company expanding its tablet portfolio, alongside strong marketing.
More information can be found in the Gartner report Market Share: Ultramobiles by Region, OS and Form Factor, 4Q13 and 2013 on the IT analyst’s website.