There's been talk that 2013 will be the year that Apple's iPad loses its iron grip on the tablet market, and the latest statistics from Strategy Analytics seem to point exactly in that very direction. Android tablets, such as Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 and Google's Nexus 7, helped along by a surprising Surface Pro and RT performance, have the iPad line on the run.
During the first quarter of 2013, the iPad and iPad mini combined for a total of 48 percent of all tablet sales worldwide. Apple is still holding on to the majority, but Android slates aren't far behind now, with 43 percent of last quarter's sales. Even Microsoft's Surface Pro and RT provided a significant boost to Windows 8 tablets, which clocked in with 7.5 percent.
"Global branded tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 40.6 million units in Q1 2013, surging 117 percent from 18.7 million in Q1 2012," Peter King, director of tablets at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong."
So what accounts for the Apple's decline? After all, during the same quarter last year, iPad shares were at 63 percent of the entire market. This is a pretty steep decline, but it's not all that surprising, considering the increased amount of competition in the tablet space this year. There are a lot more options for customers, and Android slates in particular are generally cheaper options than Apple's premium-priced devices.
With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 available now, it'll be interesting to see how Android fares in the second quarter. Apple still doesn't have a huge competitor in the small tablet range, where the iPad mini dominates, but the Galaxy Note 8's arrival should change that. The Galaxy Note 8 has received positive reviews, and the big marketing push given to it by Samsung will surely help. It's possible Android sales could overtake iPad by next quarter.
As for Windows 8, "Microsoft captured a niche 7.5 percent global tablet share in Q1 2013," Strategy Analytics' press release reads. "Very limited distribution, a shortage of top tier apps, and confusion in the market, are all holding back shipments."
While there's certainly some truth to those criticisms, 7.5 percent for Windows 8 (translating roughly into about 3.4 million sales) is a pretty respectable showing, considering all the flack it's gotten for the Surface Pro and RT. We can't say those are all Surface sales, since there are other Windows 8 tablets/hybrids on the market, but it's a decent start for Microsoft, which essentially had zero percent market share before the end of last year. The Surface Pro and RT still have issues, but maybe the future is brighter for Windows 8 tablets than previously thought.