Android’s Real Worst Enemy in the Tablet Market

Posted by · February 16, 2012 12:58 pm

English: Android Robot. Français : le logo d'a...When you think of Android’s biggest competitor, the first company that probably comes to mind is Apple—and understandably so. Whether it’s the smartphone market or the tablet market, news coverage almost always seems to portray the ongoing struggle between Android and Apple, complete with countless variations of images with their logos engaged in an epic rumble.

However, a new report from information and analysis provider IHS reveals that this common portrayal of a battle royal may not be wholly correct—at least not when it comes to the tablet market.

While the iPad did lose market share in Q4 2011—falling from 64 percent to a still-dominant 57 percent—Android isn’t the one closing the gap. Apple is.

“Shipments of the iPad line fell short of IHS estimates in the fourth quarter as many loyal Apple customers devoted their dollars to shiny new alternatives,” observed HIS senior manager Rhoda Alexander. “However the primary alternative wasn’t the Kindle Fire—which debuted to solid sales in the fourth quarter—but Apple’s own iPhone 4S smartphone. The rollout of the iPhone 4S in October generated intense competition for Apple purchasers’ disposable income, doing more to limit iPad shipment growth than competition from the Kindle Fire and other media tablets.”

With Samsung making up 8 percent of the market and Asus falling to 2 percent in the final quarter of 2011, Android tablets continue to lack the niche audience they need in order to begin gaining a noticeable share of the market.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet accounted for a combined 21 percent of the tablet market in the same quarter. Attractively priced at $199 and $249 respectively, these content-rich devices most likely constitute the thorn in Android’s side that deserves the majority of the company’s attention in the near term.

Instead of focusing on targeting the frontrunner at the expense of its identity, Android’s strategy in the table market should be to 1) determine who (meaning a specific audience, not everyone) they want to buy their tablets, 2) figure out what that tablet looks like, and 3) be able to tell that audience why it’s better than the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

As a prized possession of Google—whose arsenal of content assets is second to none—one would think that producing and marketing an Android tablet that can compete with these bargain tablets wouldn’t be too tall an order.

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  • Greg

    Typo, or incredibly predictive text:
    While the iPad did lose market share in **| Q4 2012 |**

    • Great catch, Greg! Thanks for pointing that out. Should read correctly now.

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  • ManoaHi

    Uh, the Nook Tablet was/is $249 not $299. At the time, the lower capacity Nook Tablet at $199 wasn’t out, but I think this will also hit Apple. But Apple might be coming out with a follow-up device or devices. Soon. For me, I have the Nook Tablet 16GB which I got on retail release day, I now have N2A Card so I have full Gingerbread running on Nook Tablet without rooting the Nook. The N2A is not available on the Nook Tablet 8GB, yet. Barnes and Noble seems to have sent an update to Nook users so that you can side load Android apps, provided that you have a memory card. I also hear that 2 days after Kindle Fire came out, people were already rooting the device to run Android Gingerbread. So, if you count those into the Android numbers, then it might look like a jump for Android.

  • Thanks for your input, ManoaHi! Thank you also for the price check on the Nook Tablet. I’ve updated the price to reflect the correct amount.

    -Matt