Apple’s grip on tablet market said to be loosening as Android shipments tripled in Q4

Apple sold more iPads in the fourth calendar quarter than it has ever sold before in a single three-month period, but the 15.4 million tablets it managed to move weren’t enough to keep Google from gaining ground. Market research firm strategy analytics on Thursday released its tablet estimates for the three months ended December 2011, and Google’s Android partners seemingly managed to triple tablet shipments during the holiday quarter last year. Read on for more.

Strategy Analytics estimates that Apple’s 15.4 million iPads shipped was good enough to capture 57.6% of the tablet market in the fourth quarter last year. In the same quarter a year earlier, Apple shipped 7.3 million tablets and accounted for 68.2% of the global market.

Google’s Android partners combined to ship 10.5 million tablets in the December quarter, good for a 39.1% share of the market. Android vendors shipped just 3.1 million tablets in the fourth quarter of 2010, which accounted for 29% of the market.

“Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, surging 150 percent from 10.7 million in Q4 2010,” Strategy analytics analyst Peter King said in a statement. “Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong. Apple shipped a robust 15.4 million iPads worldwide and maintained its strong market leadership with 58 percent share during the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android models this quarter.”

Apple’s iPad business is still growing rapidly, and chief executive Tim Cook said on a recent earnings call that Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire tablet had no impact whatsoever on Apple tablet sales. It appears as though a broader media tablet market is finally beginning to form around what had essentially just been an iPad market until recently, however.

Strategy Analytics’s full press release follows below.

Strategy Analytics: Android Captures Record 39 Percent Share of Global Tablet Shipments in Q4 2011

Boston, MA – January 26, 2012 – According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global tablet shipments reached 27 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011. Android jumped to a record 39 percent global share, while Apple iOS maintained its strong leadership at 58 percent.

Peter King, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, surging 150 percent from 10.7 million in Q4 2010. Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong. Apple shipped a robust 15.4 million iPads worldwide and maintained its strong market leadership with 58 percent share during the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android models this quarter.”

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “Android captured a record 39 percent share of global tablet shipments in Q4 2011, rising from 29 percent a year earlier. Global Android tablet shipments tripled annually to 10.5 million units. Dozens of Android models distributed across multiple countries by numerous brands such as Amazon, Samsung, Asus and others have been driving volumes. Android is so far proving relatively popular with tablet manufacturers despite nagging concerns about fragmentation of Android’s operating system, user-interface and app store ecosystem.”

Other findings from the research include:

  • Global tablet shipments hit 66.9 million units in full-year 2011, surging 260 percent from 18.6 million in full-year 2010. Consumers are increasingly buying tablets in preference to netbooks and even entry-level notebooks or desktops;
  • Microsoft captured a niche 1 percent global tablet share in Q4 2011. The upcoming release of Windows 8 this year cannot come quickly enough for Microsoft, so its hardware partners can start competing more effectively in the tablet space.

Exhibit 1: Global Tablet Operating System Shipments and Market Share in Q4 2011

Global Tablet OS Shipments (Millions of Units)

Q4 ’10

Q4 ’11

Apple iOS

7.3

15.4

Android

3.1

10.5

Microsoft

0.0

0.4

Others

0.3

0.5

Total

10.7

26.8

Global Tablet OS Marketshare %

Q4 ’10

Q4 ’11

Apple iOS

68.2%

57.6%

Android

29.0%

39.1%

Microsoft

0.0%

1.5%

Others

2.8%

1.9%

Total

100.0%

100.0%

Growth Year-over-Year %

N / A

150%

The full report, Global Tablet OS Market Share: Q4 2011, is published by the Strategy Analytics Tablet & Touchscreen (TTS) service, details of which can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/78qpf5u.

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