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We’ve heard a lot about Android from Google bypassing the operating system for iPhone from Apple. But there has been the impression that Apple’s domination of tabs with the iPad was solid.
Maybe not. Android tablets are on the move and over the past year snagged 20 percent of market share globally from iPad, reports ABI Research in its new “Media Tablets” report.
“Worldwide annual media tablet shipments are expected to top 120 million units in 2015. While not quite as strong as traditional PC or smartphone annual sales, media tablets are emerging from the shadow of non-handset mobile devices and rapidly coming into their own,” says ABI .
Still, there is no single Android tab maker that stands out from the crowd, says Zach Epstein in BGR.
“Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple,” says ABI mobile devices group director Jeff Orr.
Most of these iPad wannabes are priced higher than a similar Apple offering. Plus, Apple has moved on to the second-generation iPad while maintaining the price level.
More than 50 vendors are expected in 2011 to introduce “de-featured” low-priced tabs. This will help bolster growth. But the category may be stuck in the “early adopter” phase rather than moving on to the mass market, according to market researchers.
ABI notes tab market development “creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years. Good user experiences and product response are needed to propel this market beyond the ‘early adopter’ stage.”
Also, app developers face a problem. “The benefits of open software platform development have yet to be realized for media tablets,” according to ABI.
At CNET, Lance Whitney notes: “From Froyo to Gingerbread to Honeycomb, three different versions of Google's mobile OS can currently be found on different tablets. This presents a challenge to app developers who are forced to pick a specific version and may hold off on development based on the market potential of a given version.”
He says Google hopes to defragment the market with the upcoming release of Ice Cream Sandwich, the first Android version designed for both smartphones and tablets with different features and sizes.