Android Towers Over iOS in 2013 Tablet Sales

The iPad (iOS) vs 10.1 Tab 2014 Edition (Android)
Android device makers shipped more units in 2013 than Apple. With the coming of the iPad in 2010, the tablet market was born. In just under 3 years, the device has transformed the technology landscape, usage habits of gadget lovers, and made a whole new arena for technology, mobile, and telecommunications. Applications from publishing, entertainment, social networking, instant communication, e-mail and photography have rendered the device ubiquitous on any decent Geek’s table.

According to Gartner, Android was the leader in shipments for tablets, with the overall market growing by growing by a whooping 68 percent (year-on-year). The biggest news was that Android captured sales of over 62 percent (representing a massive annual growth of 123 percent). To put this in perspective, absolute numbers read something like this: 195.4 million units in 2013, a 68 percent increase on 2012, while the sales of iOS tablets grew in the fourth quarter of 2013, iOS’s share declined to 36 percent in 2013. The tablet growth in 2013 was fueled by the low-end smaller screen tablet market, and first time buyers; this led Android to become the No. 1 tablet operating system (OS), with 62 percent of the market (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: 2013 vs 2012 Sales, Market Share per Operating System (Tablets)

Operating System 2013 Sales 2013 Market Share (%) 2012 Sales 2012 Market Share (%)
Android 120,961,445 61.9 53,341,250 45.8
iOS 70,400,159 36 61,465,632 52.8
Microsoft 4,031,802 2.1 1,162,435 1
Others 41,598 <0.1 379,000 0.3
Total 195,435,004 100 116,348,317 100

Source: Gartner Data 2014

What explains this meteoric rise for the tablet? What is making Android the OS of choice for OEMs? How does this transform the market, and how does this translate into gains or losses for the end-user? Does this or anything about this news mean anything for the Zambian user, and how does it affect purchase decisions for the first-time owner or the ones looking to replace their ancient (pun intended) iSomething or Tab late last year?

What this means is the lower screen-sized versions, mostly running Android became more affordable for consumers, as Apple and Samsung outwitted each other on specs and design, this literally translated into improved prices for consumers. Though the iPad was relatively more expensive, loyal customer and brand lovers chose the Tab on merits of its OS as well as design, ergonomics and usability. This allowed Apple to maintain its value share while Android OEMs made their devices more commoditised with less and less customisation of the UI. This push to give Android devices more power and functionality, is likely to hurt margins in the near future as the value share will lower further with increased output.

Gartner says in 2013, the share of Apple’s iOS dropped 16.8 percentage points as the market demand was driven by the improved quality of smaller low-cost tablets from branded vendors, and white-box products continued to grow in emerging markets. Gartner analysts said emerging markets recorded growth of 145 per cent in 2013, while mature markets grew 31 percent.

If it was not for all those Dads rushing to do their late Christmas shopping, or the Guys that went out during Thanksgiving Season (and Digital Monday) sales, maybe Apple would have had a tougher time ending the year with strong numbers.

On the other end, Microsoft made significant improvements in catching up specs-wise in performance, camera pixilation and apps. However, this improvement translated to low value shares, with no significant market captured, Microsoft still has a long way to go before their new CEO can claim to turn around the business of the once leaders of mobile, personal computing.

These OEM vendors did relatively well, however for those that have less than 5 percent, only Lenovo had significant growth – with 198 percent in growth (see table 2 below).

Table 2: 2013 vs 2012 Sales and Market Share by Vendor (OEM)

Vendor 2013 Sales 2013 Market Share (%) 2012 Sales 2012 Market Share (%)
Apple 70,400,159 36 61,465,632 52.8
Samsung 37,411,921 19.1 8,583,146 7.4
ASUS 11,039,156 5.6 6,262,371 5.4
Amazon 9,401,846 4.8 7,707,800 6.6
Lenovo 6,525,762 3.3 2,186,993 1.9
Others 60,656,161 31 30,142,374 25.8
Total 195,435,004 100 116,348,317 100

Source: Gartner 2014 Data

As much as the data speaks volumes on tablet sales, we can only deduce that the tides are yet to settle within the Android market, where many Makers are still trying to perfect their product. From Sony, LG, Samsung and Lenovo as well as other cheaper makers like ZTE and Huawei, we see a need for more refined products  for them to maintain value perception and invest more in customisation of Android to give users differentiated experience.

For the Zambian buyer, the decision at the level of those purchasing stock is a no brainer. You want the right mix of tablets, and any other devices to capture fair value from customers willing to pay a premium and those looking for a bargain. Both iOS and Android (High-Low end devices need to be on your shelf).

The end-user has a short time to breath before the next gadget’s specs are announced. Rumors on specs abound, so it is not a choice of sitting on the fence while clutching your outdated gizmo or investing in a new one, but more or less looking for a way in which you could have the best of both worlds. That I mean, can you have time to fool around with the new one, while you back up and slowly let go of the old one because your local Vendor has the right payment option, and the Operator does not charge you an arm and a leg for the right data plan?

It is not merely a matter of the screen-size, OS and price for most Zambian owners at the purchase point. We would like to see more local support, better after sales care, and real warranties. That said, we could also use some creative Marketing with a billboard that does not look anything like what I have already seen while in transit in Nairobi or Johannesburg.

Image Credit: Gizmag