Apple’s Tablet Market Share

As I pointed out last week, we have to be very careful with statistics that generalize data. Like the one making headlines the past few days stating that Apple’s tablet market share has dipped below 30%.

As I pointed out last week, when general statistics that are not contextualized get thrown around it can mislead readers. So let’s look at the updated data doing what I propose, which is to separate legitimate tablets–devices being used for some form of computing function–from the tablets which are largely dedicated devices competing more with portable DVD players, e-readers, etc.

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 6.20.06 AM

As you can see, if we just break out the branded OEM segment, Apple’s tablet market share is 46%. An important point, however, is that Samsung has been steadily gaining tablet market share. Our estimates are that Samsung’s lower-cost tablets like the 7″ Galaxy Tab are still a healthy majority of that mix. The Galaxy Tab 7″ is now lower than $200 in the US and in many other markets as well. In fact, ‘other’ as a category slightly declined last quarter going from 38% of shipments to 35% of shipments. Samsung went from 18% to 20% sequentially and it helped the branded OEMs gain against the non-branded white-box tablets.

Tablet’s are slowing, this is true. However, as we and others have routinely pointed out, tablets are becoming extremely cyclical. At least the branded OEM tablets are. Companies like Samsung, Amazon, Apple, etc., continue to experience that cyclicality in the market.

Those who raise concerns that developers may flee to Android in tablets simply because of market share are fooling themselves. The dedicated tablet apps on Android are few and far between and I see no evidence that is changing. We must remember this about Google when we think about Android as computing platform competition. Google makes most of its money off search. Anytime a consumer is spending time in an app, they are not searching the web. Apps are quite contrary to Google’s business model. Even if you take the angle that they are learning about you as you use certain apps, that is only true of certain apps. Most time spent on Android devices is playing games. Most revenue from Play stores come from games and in app purchases.

The tablet becoming a computing platform is one of the most important market developments in the advancement of personal computing. This is why I hope Microsoft makes headwinds here. We need actual computing platforms to advance computing. Android on tablets is not that.

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Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio

95 thoughts on “Apple’s Tablet Market Share”

    1. This is an interesting question. I we look at just the use case of reading then yes the kindle e-readers would have the majority of market share of dedicated e-readers. If we look at the kindle fire as a part off eh tablet market then it is a different story. While we know many kindle fires are primarily e-readers and gaming devices, the volume of other tablets which are also being used as e readers would not but the Fire at s high number.

      I hope that helps. That is at least how I look at it. Let me know if you have other questions.

  1. why are these non-branded white-box tablets not consider Tablet

    don’t they have some sort of computing capability of an iPad? as media, web browsing, App and Game

    this article seem to be bias in favor of Apple

    1. Kenny,

      While the white box tablets do indeed have some limited computing capability, they are not a true replacement for a laptop or desktop computing. The iPad IS a replacement for many of its consumers. The Nexus 7 also falls into this category.

      1. that’s non sense

        How do you define a Tablet ?

        Majority of these cheap non-branded white-box tablets can do almost anything that an Old iPad even thought they not equal

        and when it come to replacing your Laptop or desktop the IPad fell short as well unless you never have to do real work on a computer

          1. It is already happening. All our research from end consumers reveal that they don’t get rid of their PC but they now use it significantly less. Sometimes not at all. The reality its that hundreds and hundreds of millions of consumers are lite computing users. The iPad more than fits their needs. And because the iPad is powerful computing simplified and the unique iPad apps so many, we hear many consumers tell us that they do more with their iPad than their PC.

          2. that was already the case long before the Ipad Air and many of these people are now using non-branded white-box tablets that you said does not count

          3. I and no experts I talk to in the region find any hard evidence that is the case in China. I’d love the hard data if you have it but no one can.

          4. “It is already happening”

            I have (at least) two people at my company that only have a PC at work. Away from the office they use their iPad and iPhone. We have to make sure all our document and media communications can be distributed without the need for a computer and… ta da… a DVD player/drive. And these people are directors, so we don’t get to tell them to buy a computer. They get to tell us how they want data distributed.

            I don’t see this changing as most consumer users will learn they don’t really need a desktop or even a laptop outside the office. It just isn’t necessary anymore.

            I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

          5. Absolutely. I already use an iPad 2 as a replacement for my MacBook Pro, the MacBook over serves my travel/business meeting needs. And my parents are getting an iPad Air as their only PC (the abstracted touch platform is perfect for them). The iPad is the only PC my kids have ever had. Stick your head in the sand if you like, but the iPad is taking over a lot of jobs that were previously done with traditional PCs, and that includes ‘real work’.

      1. what make a Tablet a Tablet?

        all of these articles sounds to me like the same argument that majority of Apple Fan love to made about Android not being a Smartphone or does not count simply because their are cheap and are own by cheap User

        what can an IPad do that most of these non-branded white-box tablets cant?

      2. i understand you developer prospective when it come to the US Market as to which OS to Target, but that doesn’t mean that all of these Chinese tablet does not count or are not tablet just because their not easy for some developer to make money on

        I bet you never really investigate the Chinese market, otherwise you would know that there are many Chinese developer who make money creating APP for these cheap Tablet that you claimed does not count.

        the entire Planet is not the US bubble that many so call pundit seems to be living in

        The harsh truth is the world doesn’t owe anyone a living doing something they choose to do. Artists paint because they have something they feel must be said. That does not obligate anyone to buy their art. Same applies for apps development, Google, Facebook, and Apple don’t owe you a penny just because You made a choice to develop on their platform and only you are accountable for the results of that choice.

        With a few rare exceptions, apps are not a business. Of the 1 000,000+ apps in all app stores, only a tiny handful make real money. Even Evernote, which makes money only does so from 1-2% of its users. The rest use it free. Most successful app companies have some combination of luck, a great product, connections, and skill/tenacity to get promotion, investment, etc.

        1. Kenny, did you copy/paste the second half of that comment? It seems like it was written by a different voice than the first half.

          Nobody is saying Chinese tablets don’t have apps, or that Android in general doesn’t have apps. Of course they do. The issue is that Android has chosen the opposite tradeoff from what Apple chose with iOS regarding screens. Apple is constrained with screen sizes and resolutions by design; the company knows only a few different screen sizes will be available on its platform, and asks developers to build apps to suit the size of each discrete screen size. Google wants as many different variants of Android as possible, and it wants apps to run on everything. This means tremendous variety on Google, but it also means there is no difference between a “phone” app and a “tablet” one. The problem for Google is that users can do MUCH more on an 8-10″ screen than on a 4″ phone. More screen real estate allows for a very different UI within a productivity app. More content can be displayed, more buttons or input methods are allowed, etc.

          1. sure i copy paste that second part of my comment from a blog i was reading on Forbes because i was thinking the same things

            i understand your argument when it come to APP and screen resolution, which by the way Google is trying to address as we speak, with their new version of their Play Store

            my problem is that a lot of Apple Blogger seems to enjoy changing the rules of the game just to make it appear that Apple is dominated even when they not while constantly complaining about Android Blogger being dishonest with respect to Apple.

            this time it was Ben, implying that a tablet that does not meet the standard of iPad Air does not count, hence should not be part of the android Market share when compare to IPAD which I think was also a dishonest way of changing the rule of the game to make it appear that somehow Apple is dominating the tablet market when in fact they are not.

            that was my point

          2. again read this.

            All data must be contextualized to the audience for whom is interested. The OS debate is stupid to anyone but platform devs. And as I said the evidence is strong against a tablet ecosystem on Android. Therefore Devs should know where the business opportunity is.

            This is not bending the rules it is adding context to data for whom it matters. You also didn’t seem to pick up the points in my article about Samsung or Microsoft. This is a branded OEM vs non-branded OEM article and my data is contextualized in that manner.

            One can not ignore the mountain of evidence against Android tablets in the low-end as an opportunity for anyone but hardware companies looking to compete on razor thin margins.

        2. I’d love hard data evidence to your point that app developers are doing well and making money broadly in China. As well as any evidence that they are being used for anything more that portable DVD players and e-readrers, or game platforms.

          I study China as much as anyone and have many local contacts in the region from semiconductor companies, hardware ODMs, OEMs, carriers, service providers,etc. ,and everyone I talk to says the same about white box tablets in China.

          Umeng also reported that there is a growing and healthy developer environment for Chinese app developers however they are making most of their money selling their apps overseas and not in China.

          If you can prove my data wrong I am interested in it.

          1. draw, make movies, make music, read, watch movies, play games, create, produce, etc., etc, etc,.

        3. “The harsh truth is the world doesn’t owe anyone a living doing something they choose to do.”

          This sounds all very Evolutionary and survival of the fittest and all, but in reality as long as we live in a monetary economy there certainly is a quid pro quo that says in order for anyone to sell something the other person has to have money. And in order for that person to have money they have to be able to sell something. McDonald’s and Walmart can’t exactly expect people to buy their products if they aren’t also contributing to the economy where they sell.

          If we follow your line of thinking, then we end up with a welfare state. People could have made money by contributing directly, but instead they get money from the government. So the world is still helping someone make a living, they just aren’t asking anything in return.

          Personally, I’d rather pay the artist for their work than pay them to do nothing.


  2. Don’t forget that many of those branded tablets are also being used as e-readers/video watching devices, based on browser usage share.

  3. The lack of Nexus 7 and 10 tablets in the first pie chart detracts from the strength of the article IMHO – or are they included in the Asus and Samsung numbers?

    As to Microsoft, I still think they are lost… their only position is as a playground bully PR’ing Android licensing fees from device manufacturers. As such, I only wish the competition authorities would wake up and bring in the antitrust measures the company deserves to be hit with.

  4. I don’t think Samsung has healthy sales of the tablets because they are competing with their large screen phones which double as mini tablets.
    Shipments yes sales very little.

  5. I wonder if Samsung alone will exceed Apple Market share next year.

    Apple just released the best iPad yet, and hardly anyone seems to care.

    iPhone still generates excitement, but iPad is generating iMac levels of excitement(not much). I think tablets are saturating, especially big expensive (relative) ones like the full size iPad. They don’t have the subsidy model to hide pricing and encourage turnover.

    1. Good for Samsung, but it’s not hurting iPad sales which continue to increase year over year. We’ll have to wait and see how fiscal 2014 ends up. My guess is another YoY increase for iPad unit sales, just like every year since its launch.

      One interesting tidbit, the iPad broke 70 million in annual sales in four years, and it took the iPhone five years to break 70 million (roughly speaking, obviously each wasn’t on sale the full year the product launched). Not sure what that says about the iPad’s future, but it does appear the iPad beat the iPhone to the 70 million units in a year mark. Not bad for a product that doesn’t generate much excitement.

      1. Time will tell, but it certainly looks like the bloom is coming off the tablet rose.

        How can you tell Samsung’s growth isn’t impacting Apple.

        This quarter is down over last year. But this year is harder to look at quarter over quarter sales, because of shifting launch times, but for the upcoming quarters we should have better alignment for the quarters coming up to compare.

        Still the trajectory doesn’t look that great:

        1. Hmm, people really do seem to bend over backwards to prove Apple’s in trouble. The rate of growth will always change, and you can always find quarterly comparisons that look bad, and if you like you can use relative market share as well (that also looks very bad for Apple). But all of that really is cherry picking data to fit a narrative you’ve already invented.

          I stick to annual sales, are unit sales going up or not. And with the iPad, unit sales continue to increase. iPad sales by fiscal year:

          2010: 7.5 million
          2011: 32 million
          2012: 58 million
          2013: 71 million

          I like the simplicity of this metric, there’s no wiggle room, no space for weasels. Did Apple sell more or not? The answer is yes. Everything else is just waving your hands in the air. Trajectory! Bloom! Alignment! Excitement! Yeah, but did Apple sell more iPads in 2012 than in 2011? Yes. And did Apple sell more iPads in 2013 than in 2012? Yes, but, but, but, but, but…

          1. Considering that 2013 was the first full year of lineup expansion to include the mini. Those numbers don’t look very impressive.

            It should be obvious that growth is slowing, and will likely flatline in 2014 or 2015.
            I don’t have any criticism of Apple iPad busniness. I think they have a solid lineup of the best tablets on the market in very good sizes.

            I just think there is a lot of rose colored glasses if you can’t see the growth slowing and market share shrinking and you don’t think the competition is having an effect.

          2. We’ll see where unit sales are in 2014 and 2015. If you’re right unit sales will basically stay the same or even decrease from 2013. That’s a ballsy bet, I sure wouldn’t make it, especially given how huge fiscal Q1 is likely to be for the iPad.

            If memory serves there were similar things said about the iPhone early on, using snapshots in time and a narrow view of selected data to put forth the idea that sales were going to collapse. On the subject of impressive numbers, and I’ve posted this a couple places, it looks like it took the iPhone five years to break 70 million in annual sales. The iPad did that in four years.

            I see all the things you point out, I just don’t think they matter for Apple’s goals. They matter if you belong to the Church of Market Share, certainly, but I am not a member, and neither is Apple.

          3. I expect the flatline in 2015. Adding a Retina Mini, should inspire some growth even in the face of a saturating market. Everything should be lined up for Q1 to return to record iPad quarters, but if it isn’t by a huge amount, then you will see the writing on the wall.

            I wouldn’t be surprised at this point to see negligible growth in 2014. The excitement definitely seems to be over, the competition is making stronger inroads.

            You really can’t use iPhone to model anything. iPads tend to be much more susceptible to competition. iPhones work in the odd land of subsidies, so they are somewhat insulated from pricing pressure.

            iPads are not. You can get a 323 dpi Nexus 7 for $220. I do think the Retina Mini is a better tablet, but at $400, it really is a much harder sell.

            Phones OTOH are usually only seperated by $99 and the rest is hidden in a 2 year contract.

          4. Wise of you to push your prediction out three years. When 2014 unit sales are larger than 2013, you can still say you weren’t wrong. And when 2015 beats 2014, you can also say you weren’t wrong. You’re effectively covered until 2016 unit sales beat 2015 unit sales, or maybe you could even argue that the flatline starts in 2015 and it’ll take until 2017 to see unit sales level out or decrease. Well played. And by then people will have forgotten what you said here. However, I have OmniFocus, your claim chowder has been scheduled 🙂

          5. I originally said 2014 or 2015, so I am not pushing anything out.

            I do think Q1 should be big with a new Retina Mini, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Q2 is flat. It may be flat from there out, but 2014 would still be up because of one big quarter.

            You are the one that doesn’t believe in looking at year over year quarters and insists on full year results, that is what is pushing it out.

            My expectation is Big Q1, Flat Q2. If it is flat Q2 then growth is likely really done at that point. Let’s check back then so we don’t have to wait till 2015. So 6 months instead of 2 years.

          6. So let me get this straight. You expect a big *holiday quarter* and then the quarter *after the holiday* won’t be very good. Quite the prediction. It’s almost as if there’s one quarter in the year that has really great sales of iOS devices, almost as if consumers are waiting for that quarter to buy, and it’s almost as if there are new devices available for that quarter as well, making annual sales very cyclical. Weird.

            Here’s my prediction, annual unit sales will continue to increase. Period. Wave your hands around all you want about quarterly changes in sales and growth. Those happen for lots of reasons. Annual unit sales is a much more clear and simple metric to look at. As I said, there’s no wiggle room. Up or down. That’s it.

            Heh, I have to point this out though, your own words: “2014 would still be up because of one big quarter”. Yes, I wonder what could be so special about that one quarter, that it would have such an impact on annual unit sales. Well, I’m sure it’s just an accident and it won’t happen every year and we can discount it and still say sales are flat. I mean really, just because Apple gets lucky and one quarter adds a bunch to unit sales annually. Heck, I bet it’s not even the same quarter every year, it’s just dumb luck. Oy.

          7. I am not talking about comparing Q2-14 with Q1-14. Obviously that will be down and is a pointless comparison.

            I am talking about the actually useful comparison of Q2-13 with Q2-14.

            What exactly is the problem you have with interpreting Year over Year results per quarter, this is standard practice.

            If Q2-14 is flat with respect to, Q2-13, in what should be directly comparable quarters(actually more favorable to Q2-14 because now 4 models instead of 3), then growth will have halted. That IMO is the first place we may see how the pattern is emerging.

          8. Quarter to quarter can’t ever be directly comparable. There’s too much that is continually shifting and changing throughout the year. Focusing on comparing quarters is unreliable, it’s too short a time span to really see long term trends. And it’s even worse when you compare what is essentially a quarter where consumers take a break from buying. It isn’t a useful comparison.

            Obviously you don’t agree, but it’s why you’re wrong. We’ll just have to wait a couple years before you’ll be proved wrong.

  6. Thank you for your insights into the tablet market in China. I totally agree that Microsoft needs to make headwinds here, which might become easier now as Intel has significantly improved their mobile chips.

    One question I have is whether you consider all branded Android tablets to be “legitimate” tablet-devices? Since Android itself lacks dedicated tablet apps and the screen aspect ratio is more optimized for video than for productivity or web-browsing, I would imagine that even many of the branded Android tablets are not “legitimate”, and are actually being used in much the same way as Chinese tablets are.

    If a large portion of branded Android tablets are actually not “legitimate”, then it logically follows that the vast majority of the growth in the tablet market for the last couple of quarters is coming from the non-“legitimate” category, whereas the sales of “legitimate” tablets (iPads in particular) are have leveled out.

    This would then suggest that the market for “legitimate” tablets is already saturating, and that to move to the next level, tablets will have to significantly improve in some key functions.

  7. We’re always talking market share but we forget these 2 companies have totally different business strategies. Apple can’t compete with Goog’s business model. A company that gives its OS freely to hundreds of OEMs will always dominate the market with thousands of choices & price points. This is even worst then Windows vs Mac b/c Microsoft sold Windows to many OEMs, google gives Android for free. Apple has loyal customers so it won’t disappear but it will have be content with having a small market share 5% or less at least world wide.

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