For a long time, the iPad ruled as the tablet market’s unquestioned champion as many Android-based tablets — anyone remember the Motorola Xoom? — failed to compete in terms of either quality or pricing. However, new data from Gartner shows that Samsung has helped make Android the world’s top tablet OS much in the same way it helped cement Android’s dominance of the global smartphone market.
According to Gartner, Samsung more than quadrupled its total tablet sales over the last year, going from just 8.6 million sold to end users in 2012 to 37.4 million sold in 2013. This has helped Android’s share of the tablet market rise from 45.8% in 2012 to 61.9% in 2013 while Apple’s share has fallen from 52.8% all the way down to 36%.
As with its declining market share in smartphones, however, it’s not clear how much Apple cares about its overall market share as long as it’s making healthy profits on the devices it does sell. Since Apple and Samsung are the only two companies that regularly turn a profit by selling smartphones, Apple is probably happy to have a smaller market share as long as it doesn’t feel pressure to churn out low-cost devices that will eat into its margins.
One other interesting tidbit from Gartner worth noting: Despite its heavy promotion of Windows 8 and Windows RT last year, Microsoft barely made a dent in the overall tablet market and accounted for just 2.1% of all tablets sold in 2013. Microsoft has a lot riding on becoming a major player in the tablet market since it’s designed its most recent version of Windows to be a touch-centric OS capable of working on both tablets and traditional PCs.