Android now accounts for 41 percent of tablet shipments around the world, according to Strategy Analytics.
Global tablet shipments reached 25 million units in the third quarter of 2012, the analyst firm said on Thursday. Of those devices, 57 percent were running iOS, down from 64 percent a year before. By contrast, 41 percent were using Android, compared with 29 percent the previous year. That adds up to a rise of 12 percentage points, or 41 percent more than in 2011.
"Global Android tablet shipments doubled annually to 10.2 million units," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston said in a blog post. "No single Android vendor comes close to Apple in volume terms at the moment, but the collective weight of dozens of hardware partners, such as Asus, Samsung and Nook, is helping Google's Android platform to register a growing presence in tablets."
The trend of Android-based devices gaining market share began in the US, where the Android-based Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook have done very well indeed over the last year or so. However, those e-readers are only now being released internationally, so they have a relatively small impact on the global figures released this week.
According to Mawston, the third-quarter figures were also affected by people holding off on iPad purchases ahead of the iPad mini announcement this week.
"In the near term, Apple should still stay ahead," Mawston told ZDNet on Friday. "The iPad mini will give it a further [push] in Q4 and Q1. But it's clear that the Android community is ramping up its activities quite heavily."
"Especially in [tablets with] seven- to nine-inch displays, we expect the gap between Apple and Android to get smaller," he added.
However, Mawston also pointed out that Microsoft is getting into the same tablet game with Windows 8 and RT, and this would probably be a significant factor in future.
"In 2010 it was a one-horse race," he said. "In 2011 and 2012 it's become a two-horse race, and it will be a three-horse race in 2013."