Android poised to overtake iOS in tablet platform share

Despite Apple holding onto more than 50 percent share of all tablet shipments during the calendar first quarter, Android is expected to take the crown as the leader in the tablet platform share.

iPad mini expected to overtake full-sized iPad in shipments by the June quarter, while Android is poised to overtake iOS in the tablet market share. Image: CNET

Despite Apple's success in the tablet market in recent years, Android is poised to overtake iOS in the tablet platform space, according to ABI Research.

The research firm cited China as the wildcard variable in the ongoing tablet platform race. While the region is passionate about Apple's brand and the masses' ability to afford new technology, smaller Android-based tablets are becoming increasingly popular.

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Enterprises appear torn between the cheap Android devices that cut down on IT budgets, but the simplicity and the security benefits that the iPad and iPad mini offer. But prosumers and SMB-minded folk are likely keeping $200 and under tablets on the table, and keeping Android relevant in both emerging and developed markets.  

"It's inevitable that Android tablets will overtake iOS-powered slates, though we see no single vendor challenging Apple’s dominance anytime soon," said ABI Research senior practice director Jeff Orr. 

While Android continues to spin in China, a massive population of still mostly untapped revenue for firms like Google and Apple, iPad popularity has reached its peak as well as a saturation point.

According to recent IDC figures, Apple had just shy of half the overall tablet shipments for the first quarter. That is, not because the company doesn't have its own slimmed-down tablet. Of course, it has the iPad mini.

But Android's platform share is far higher on two fronts: it has a greater platform spread with more Android-based devices, and many of those devices are 7-inches or less, just as the iPad mini is.

Apple's tablet growth is beginning to slow . Its overall market share is dipping quarter-over-quarter. Also, Apple's Mac sales are suffering as a result of the iPad explosion , leading to an eventual and potential ding for two of the company's major revenue-making divisions.

The average selling price has been moving down-market since Android tablets began to undercut the iPad — not just in price but physical size. (Remember, the iPad mini was in reaction to smaller Android tablets, rather than the other way around.)

In line with IDC's latest research, published on Tuesday, that claims smaller tablet screens would  ultimately end up dominating the market  — with 8-inch or less displays taking around 57 percent of the market by 2017 — ABI Research agrees.

"Expect iPad minis to become the predominant iPad model after the June quarter," Orr added.