Apple’s Tablet Market Share

on October 31, 2013

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.