Android races past iOS to tablet number one, but there's no budging Apple from the top slot

Android races past iOS to tablet number one, but there's no budging Apple from the top slot

Summary: Android is dominating tablet sales but Apple is still the biggest brand. But will hybrids and clamshells change everything again?


With 120 million tablets sold last year Android has now become the dominant tablet operating system, overtaking Apple's iOS.

Android grabbed around 62 percent of all tablets sold in 2013 — up from 46 percent in 2012, when it 53 million tablets were sold powered by the Google OS. As a result, Apple's iOS-powered iPad's market share declined from 53 percent in 2012 to 36 percent in 2013, even though it increased sales from 61 million to 70 million over the period.

Worldwide sales of tablets to end users reached 195 million last year, a 68 percent increase on 2012, according to a report released today by analyst group Gartner.

It was in 2013 that tablets really hit the mainstream, with cheaper Android devices sporting reasonable specs becoming popular, Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, said.  However, competing on price alone won't be enough for tablet makers from now on, she added.

"As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditised, 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," she said.

Gartner said that the improved quality of low-cost tablets from big vendors, plus the growth of 'white box' devices in emerging markets, had eaten in to Apple's market share.

Worldwide Tablet Sales to End Users by Operating System, 2013

Operating system 2013 sales 2013 market share 2012 sales 2012 market share
Android 121 million 61.9 percent 53 million 45.8 percent
iOS 70 million 36 percent 61 million 52.8 percent
Microsoft 4 million 2.1 percent 1.1 million 1 percent


<0.1 percent 379,000 0.3 percent

Source: Gartner February 2014

By brand, Apple still sells the most tablets as Android's giant market share is made up by tablets from many different vendors. Apple's 36 percent market share was almost double that of its nearest rival Samsung, which sold 37 million tablets (up from eight million the year before).

The expansion and improvement of its Galaxy tablet portfolio, together with strong marketing and promotions, helped Samsung shrink the gap with Apple, Gartner noted. "In line with its smartphone approach, Samsung's oversegmentation of its tablet portfolio helped it to offer a wider size and price choice but also helped it to test the market and find niches."

Gartner said Lenovo, in fifth place, did particularly well in 2013 with tablet sales growing 198 per cent year on year; sales of its Yoga model and Windows tablets did particularly well. However, Gartner said establishing a strong brand with consumers outside China, which is especially important in the tablet market, remains a challenge for the company.

And, despite experiments with different form factors, the standard black glass slab design remains the favourite for now, accounting for 90 percent of what Gartner terms the 'ultramobiles' market, with clamshell and the hybrids claiming just eight and two percent of sales respectively.

However, interest in hybrids is growing fast, the analyst firm said, mainly because the keyboard offers better use of productivity applications and benefits from a tablet form factor. Asus was the leader in the hybrid ultramobile segment in 2013, due to stronger sales of its Transformer Book T100.

One trend for this year — the analyst group said replacement buyers will start upgrading to new hybrid ultramobiles especially if they don't want to own multiple devices: "There is an opportunity here for hybrid ultramobiles to marry the functionality of a PC and a tablet, and they will also prove to be an attractive alternative replacement product among businesses," Cozza said.

Although Amazon increased sales of its Kindle Fire devices from 7.7 million to 9.4 million, its market share fell to 4.4 percent from 6.6 percent.

But there was some good news for Microsoft – Gartner calculates that around four million Windows tablets sold last year, up from one million in 2012. That meant Redmond doubled its market share from a tiny one percent to a still-tiny two percent, although the analysts noted that Microsoft does have a better shares in ultramobiles that are more productivity oriented, where its partners are ramping up new form factors and designs.

Further reading

Topics: Tablets, Android, Apple, Mobility, Samsung

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  • switched camps

    Having an iPad Mini Retina and a Nexus 7 2013 I am just shocked again and again how limited iOS 7 is in possibilties in all areas. Such as browsers. Also iOS being more user friendly appeared to be a myth, I experience the contrary now. And this iPad has terrible disply quality too. I switched camp and now also find Apple way overprized for what your getting.

    But I can imagine lots of people having terrible Android experience by buying cheap garbage A-tablets. Such as low end Samsung tabs.
    • Yep

      I've told people that since the Mini launched and still, the iOS faithful refused to listen.

      They are going down the same path that Apple ventured down into the 90s. There's no scenario where they end up on top with current products.

      If they continue with their over prices items, this whole company will be back at the bottom again.
      • NEXUS 7 2013 is the best tablet avoid Samsung

        When you compare how great Nexus 7 2013 to what Samsung offers, you realize that you are paying for useless gimmicks on Samsung.

        I use a GS4 phone, though really would never buy another one, as Nexus series devices far outperform anything Samsung has to offer. Starting from the OS and their now useless Tizen. Stay away from Samsung if you want a great device.
        • Love my Nexus 4

          I always buy last years technology since I buy outright off contract. Got my Nexus 4 for $250 and its been a fantastic phone. When the next Nexus phone comes out and the 5 is reduced, will do the same.
          Rann Xeroxx
  • No surprises, then?

    This si following the same trajectory as mobile phones, and Apple will end up with some 7.5% of the market; albeit the top end of the market, with profit margins to die for.

    Microsoft - if this is accurate - have still got a tough job ahead; they are still virtually giving away Surface in some markets, while in others they are spending vast sums on advertising and smear campaigns, neither of which seems to getting the results they expected.

    For me, the really good news is the increasing variety of offerings; we're seeing fewer people saying "it has to be 10 inches" (why?), and we not at all seeing people saying "it has to 7 inches". Of course there are one or two saying "it has to be 7 or 10 inches", but some people think all men should buy shirts with 16.5" collars. Common sense is filtering through, which makes for a more interesting market.
    • Okay

      Here's your problem... It doesn't work like that. Eventually, people will change and their profits will dwindle just like their market share because price will be the only area they will have any flexibility left to compete.

      This strategy has always been on a bad path but, Jobs was never there to see the end result and it was easy for him to blame Scully when he set this ship in this direction.
    • Surface is only one Windows tablet

      Microsoft actually has 30 something tablets on the market because its the OS on Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. Just like Google with Android, Microsoft benefits from any device running their OS (actually MS benefits more than Google with regards to Android in that they make billions of licensing).

      I have looked but I cannot find an accurate number of full Windows 8(.1) tablet sales broken out anywhere. Most breakouts only consider iOS, Android, etc). I really think Windows is posed to grab a huge percentage of the tablet market. But the biggest problem is "what's a tablet"? Is a Yoga or a Sony Flip a tablet? How about a ASUS Transformer when its detached from the base?
      Rann Xeroxx
  • good news for microsoft?

    in 2 months in 2012, they sold 1.1 million tablets.
    in 12 months in 2013 they sold 4 millions tablets.

    how is that good news for them?
    • If this is true...

      ...that's terrible news for Microsoft.

      Not only the sales decreased, but Android increased from 53M to 121M devices.
    • They are a brand new OEM

      Tripling their sales in a one year period is actually not bad. Heck, even the first year lost that they had with RT is not really bad for a first product. Most people who have gotten the Surface Pro like it and if the Surface (non-pro) device were to go Baytrail Atom, there is a good chance it would sell very well.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • That belies the reality of the situation

        MS had a 10 year head start in tablets compared to Apple.
  • same as phone

    just wait a bit :)
  • Windows tablets

    It is surprising to see they sold so many. Even so, the $1B write down for Surface tablets amounts to $250 per unit. How many can they afford to sell?
    • Just a bit of a correction

      The $900M write down is not a "loss" but non-actualized profits. Companies like MS have to put on their accounting books their expected profits and MS grossly overestimated theirs on Surface. So they took a one time write down of those "profits" off their books. Now any income from selling the remaining original Surface Pro and RTs go to net income.

      They will still lose money but it will be no where near $1B.
      Rann Xeroxx
      • So long as their cheques to you

        don't bounce why should you care??
      • But what is really means

        is that MS had a warehouse full of tablets that they could not sell. THAT is the reality of the situation. For all you know, those tablets are still sitting in the warehouse.
  • why even bother

    why even bother to mention about the redm*nd software manufacturer, buggy, late 20st century, history, 20 years out of date? in the mobile arena... they mean exactly nothing and they will never even mean something here, time to pack and go home micr*s*ft!!!
    Dan Marinescu
    • Except that, everything that MS is doing now in the mobile sector,

      is far better than what Apple is doing, and way beyond what Google and its partners are doing. So,that MS that you refer to might have been caught off guard some 7 years ago, and you might be right about them those 7 years ago, but, this is now, and now, MS is becoming the leader in mobile tech and mobile OS and mobile software. It could be Apple this time around that is being caught with their pants down, and is failing to "innovate" and respond to what others are doing, including what the Android device makers are doing. Google is not in control of Android, other than the simple updates it does about once a year, but other than that, Android and the Android OEMs are not setting any new real directions in the mobile market either.

      So, it seems like you're stuck in a time warp, and your perceptions need to be upgraded by about 7 years, and it's not 2007 anymore.