The iPad is everywhere, Android tablets not so much

The iPad is everywhere, Android tablets not so much

Summary: Every day I see iPads, a lot of iPads, out in public. What I rarely ever see are Android tablets.


Most days I work all over the downtown Houston area. I move from place to place, paying particular attention to the mobile devices that people use. I see iPads, lots of them, everywhere I go. I see people carrying them in hand while walking down the street. What I rarely see, almost never in fact, are Android tablets.

No Android
(Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

This surprises me. The Houston central district is a tech-savvy place, with universities, major oil companies, and companies working in the legal system all over the place.

A fair number of mobile workers I see, and most are indeed working, have iPads. Some use them with a keyboard case as I do, while others tap away on the tablet screen. It's not uncommon to see more iPads in use than laptops at some stops, and at least half of them have keyboards.

You'd think statistics alone would have some of them show up in public if sales were good.

While I see iPads everywhere I go, the Android tablet is nowhere to be seen. Not even models from giant Samsung are evident.

This surprises me, as I would think some percentage of the mobile workers I see would go Android. I've used Android tablets and most are good choices. It is telling that few I see are making that choice.

I'm not saying that Android tablets, Samsung or other brands, are not selling. However, I am wondering how many mobile workers in the US choose Android when it comes to tablets since I never see them. You'd think statistically I'd regularly see them in public if sales were good.

Of course, maybe some other factor is in play here. Maybe the supposedly big group of Android tablet owners don't work in public like iPad owners. Maybe they are assigned by employers with the stipulation they aren't to leave the workplace. No, that doesn't make sense for mobile devices, and I confess I can't come up with a single compelling reason behind the lack of Android tablets in public, other than they aren't being bought by many here in the US.

Perhaps the total domination I see from the iPad is specific to Houston. I doubt that, as I see the same when I travel. There are iPads everywhere, yet Android tablets are a rarity.

As a platform agnostic tablet enthusiast, I like Android tablets and have owned a number of them. I regularly use the Kindle Fire HDX for work, which is kind of an Android tablet. I would think I'd see more of them in public than I do. Heck, I can't remember the last time I've seen an Android tablet being carried or used in the places I frequent.

As much as I like Android tablets, I do prefer the iPad Air when it comes to serious work. I must not be alone in this regard, otherwise there would surely be Android tablets everywhere I go. I guess they are languishing on the shelves at Best Buy.

Perhaps it's different outside the US. Sales must be happening somewhere, or else companies would stop building so many Android tablets. Sales figures show Android tablets far outsell the iPad, so somebody is buying them. It's a real mobile tech mystery, with so many Android tablets being sold, where are they?

See also:

Topics: Mobility, Android, iPad, Tablets

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  • International

    I see the same in Miami and the Washington DC area, total iPad domination, in the coffee shops, in the metro, ubiquitous indeed. I would even say I see some Windows 8 tablets here and there, but rarely Android tablets.
    • despite Android is superior over iPad

      despite Android is superior over iPad:

      -multi-user API
      -default browser change
      -calendar on a desktop
      -many many many many more

      iPad is just a toy but it is not surprising, its because of:
      "Study: iPhone owners have ‘blind loyalty’ and will buy anything Apple makes"

      People will learn and ditch these iToys soon for far more advanced tools with Android, don't worry about that

      just look here how iPad is inferior = not a real smart device, funny:
      Jiří Pavelec
      • Too bad Android has few applications for tablets.

        Stretched out phone apps mostly and few dedicated apps to take advantage of any trivial OS API advantage turning them into mostly paperweights when it comes to getting real work done.

        iOS, on the other hand, has far more advanced programming APIs to actually create unique, interesting and useful productivity software in a timely manner.
        • Android has the best of the most important

          The most important application is the web browser and Android has far better browser choices than iOS. All browsers scale to any tablet resolution and screensize aspect ratios unlike iOS.
          Missing plug-in or not supported? Hah, only on iOS.
          Then there is the superior keyboards and multitasking. With multiwindowing, some Android tablets are in a different league to iPads. I'm running LXDE linux desktop on top of the android linux kernel while multiwindowing and multitasking with any android app!
          I have desktop Libreoffice compiled for ARM running natively on my Android phone in a window!
          Tell me about API when Android absolutely kills iOS for feature set.
          It's not even close.
        • everything compatible, you just lie

          we have more apps than iTunes, I have never encountered a problem with apps for phone

          everything compatible, you just lie
          Jiří Pavelec
      • Yeah just keep telling yourself that

        While the rest of us get our work done.
      • No, what you have shown is all the

        thing YOU think makes Android superior aren't what most consumers think is important.
        • for ipad fanboys

          Can't do it = not important
          It's called denial.
          • exactly many times proved

            "Study: iPhone owners have ‘blind loyalty’ and will buy anything Apple makes"
            Jiří Pavelec
      • I think perception is in play here.

        First Apple did have a huge jump. So they did get all of the vpn clients and at least some support for IT tools.

        However when the androids started to come up it was difficult to support them in much the same way(again going back a couple of years ago). Some of the problems I ran into back then.
        a) Lack of real MDM support(across the majority of the big venders)
        b) VPN connectivity was a real pain, it was very specific to some platforms and some versions of android.
        c) etc.

        I can tell you that it's gotten much better especially if you stick with the premium brands. For example MDM support is some regards better with Samsung then Apple. VPN support is finally there. Major application support is there now for VDI, Citrix, and various work applications.

        So for IT I see us stuck in one of two modes. One you can just support the iPad which we know is nearly fully supported. Or two you can go to Supporting certain devices along with the iPad. The problem there is even then some vendors are just dropping support for the device by not offering updates. Then what do you do if you need vpn updated and the client requires whatever the version after kitkat is.

        Then you also have Microsoft coming in around the corner. I'm seeing some people thinking, to heck with this. I'm just going to support the iPad or a Surface like device because my other management tools can work with that.

        So I guess I wouldn't say Android is loosing in corporations because of "Blind Loyalty". Were just getting burnt some just because of the policies of HTC and other vendors in how they support them.
        • Couldn't agree more!

          As someone who's been heading up my organizations MDM solution.. I couldn't agree more with what you stated. Apple devices enroll "smooth like butter" pretty much 99% of the time. Android on the other hand is a giant ball of suck. Samsung and HTC seem to enroll mostly OK but various other devices (Nexus, Motorola, etc) have various levels of fail (to the point where we can't fully enroll them). Lots of people in my organization laughed (literally) a couple years ago when we decided name Apple devices as our "Preferred device".. but that's turned out to be a pretty good decision.
      • I have to laugh whenever people call the iPad a "toy"

        I guess Apple isn't the only company with RDF Kool Aid. First, I not only use and deploy iPads in enterprise environments daily. We use a server based app from a third party vendor to manage the devices. I see everything from CEO's checking email, appointments, company sales and projections via specialized dashboard apps, and remotely access their files or desktop via Citrix. I've watched CFO's monitor the markets with Bloomberg and other financial apps. I've even had a doctor use an iPad to show me the exact nature of a medical procedure I needed to have performed. Yep, that's some "toy". I'm not an Apple worshipper, nor am I a Samsung basher. To be honest, I like both for their uniquely different personalities. However, the constant bickering on both sides is beyond irritating. If you like your device, enjoy it and stop allowing feelings of inferiority to compel you to type nonsense about the competition. This applies to both iOS and Android fans.
        • Well said, mooseboulders.

          The moment I see a person saying that any device they don't personally use is useless, I mentally subtract 50 points from their estimated IQ and treat their opinions as those of a moron. Rabid zealotry negates any portion of their argument which may have been valid. In fact, rabid zealotry is what kept me from buying a Mac for a very long time. It only reflects badly on the users, as a whole, to see a few ignorant loudmouths spouting their opinions as fact.

          Still, James Kendrick's observations reflect my own perfectly. The fact is, I see iPads in use virtually everywhere. Unlike Android phones, which I see a lot, I have only ever seen one Android tablet in public. Like James, I doubt the lack of public use means Android tablets are not popular. A simpler explanation might be that the type of people who buy Android tablets simply prefer to use them on the couch at home rather than carry them everywhere. It very likely has nothing to do with popularity.
          • Extending that simple explanation...

            Those who do have Android phones likely many if not most have Android tables for interoperability. And if one carries their Android phone everywhere there is much less need to carry that Android tablet.
          • I wonder if it has anything to do with region?

            I don't know about "on the street" but in Wal-mart, the only tablets I see people using are Android-based. Employees on breaks, customers shopping, people loitering ... nary an iPad in sight. Same with McDonald's.
        • And how difficult was it to setup these "enterprise" iPads?

          iPads and iOS are not designed for enterprise use. Apple has come up with hacks to be able to superficially to enterprise level work.

          For example, iOS doesn't allow for multiple accounts on a device. You can't have an admin account on the device and standard user accounts. Android does allow you to have multiple accounts on a device.

          For example, iOS doesn't have a built-in file manager. Android does support a file manager.

          For example, iOS requires the user to use an Apple ID to setup a device. So what did you have to do to circumvent this requirement from Apple if you're setting up a bunch of iPads that are not tied to a specific user account? Android tablets are not tied to a specific account to setup the way iOS tablets are.

          For example, iOS tablets don't support pointing devices like mice or controllers. iOS is not capable of reproducing a pointer/cursor on the screen. Android has been capable of that since almost day one.

          For example, how do you get file off and on an iOS device if you don't go through iTunes? Can you connect an external HD? No! Can you use an SDcard? No! Android can do all those things and via the cloud.

          BTW, Android can do remote access as well. And you don't have to use Citrix, but you can if you want.
          • No one cares about multiple users

            If they did, they'd all be doing it. They're not.

            I read recently about police vehicles outfitted with BlackBerry Playbooks. Do you think they login or log out? Probably not.

            Because again? Nobody cares.
          • multiuser function in enterprise

            It does matter for BYOD as you can properly seperate business profile and personal profile on your own device - if their policy allows it. Ipad is a 1-to-1 only solution. You cannot repurpose an ipad for shifts using multiuser function. That reduces duty cycle potential of the device and increases cost per user.
            some will argue that we can just use the ipad as a remote desktop and multiuser virtually. Well, then you don't need an ipad because you can use any cheap Android at half the price to remote desktop.
            Like at the consumer level, ipad was a default choice for users who didn't know any better. The solutions available today puts the ipad way behind for enterprise usage and sticking with an ipad in enterprise is about as stupid as sticking with windows XP after 14 years.
          • Yes,.. you can.

            > " You cannot repurpose an ipad for shifts using multiuser function."

            We do this in my organization all the time. There are several different approaches/solutions that work pretty well.

            * You can do an iCloud Backup/Restore. Generally doesn't take very long and it's bit-for-bit complete.

            * You can use an MDM (Mobile Device Management) solution. Airwatch for example has a "check-out / check-in) type of process. Works like a charm.

            * If it's being used in a business-situation.. you can use a generic AppleID (Example: "") .. and add/remove the Users email account.

            > "The solutions available today puts the ipad way behind for enterprise usage and sticking with an ipad in enterprise is about as stupid as sticking with windows XP after 14 years."

            This is just ignorant and out of touch. There are plenty of solutions to configure, provision and deploy iPads that make them strong and useful enterprise tools. We use them for everything from VPN/RDP to native Apps for AutoCAD & ArcGIS Mapping, to VISIO and Network diagnostics/troubleshooting. iPads can tie directly into our CRM & Payroll systems, connect to Projectors and customized sensor systems. I've seen iPads run lighting-systems, audio-control boards, watering & irrigation sensors and a variety of other vendor-specific implementations.

            "oh god, it's just a toy"... is getting tiresome and old.
          • out of touch

            The IT departments hugging ipad solutions are the ones that are "out of touch".
            All your responses fall into 3 categories:
            1. iPad can't do it = we don't need it = denial
            2. half baked solutions = acceptable = bend over and take it Apple's way
            3. Oh looky, we can use the iPad as a mobile touchscreen = not a toy = amazement from low expectation of current technology

            Let's face it, iPad in enterprise is either restricted to a glorified dumb terminal or hacked with MDM solutions where it may as well be jailbroken and dispense with the pretense that iOS is enterprise ready.
            Android is superior to iOS at the native level and is a superior dumb terminal with more choices in form factor. Being able to use a mouse makes it a superior virtualisation client especially with keyboard and active stylus form factors.
            If we chuck windows tablets into the contest, the comparison is ridiculous and any IT department still pushing ipads at over twice the cost-per-user price has to be blissfully ignorant to negligent levels.
            Face it, the ipad is way behind as an enterprise solution in terms of cost and functionality. Only ignorant iOS supporters would continue to bend over for the ipad.