The latest sales figures out of IDC show Android tablets leaving Apple in the dust, as the plethora of new Samsung, Nexus, Kindle Fire and other devices march onward. Apple is stuck waiting for that possible retina-class Mini and an iPad 5, running iOS 7 to be the big drivers later in the year.
Tablets on Recharge
Apart from Samsung's constant roll-out of new Notes and Tabs, there's been a bit of a lull in tablet launches recently, with a few announcements and hints of things to come. So its not much of a surprise that tablet sales were down by almost 10% over the last two quarters, according to IDC's latest numbers. But the definite sea change in numbers is the rise of Android market share to leap ahead of Apple's numbers, year on year.
Android sales have rocketed 163% in the course of a year, as compelling devices from many vendors have arrived, while Apple sales have dropped 14% with only the arrival of the iPad mini among modest upgrades to generate some excitement. Overall, IDC's numbers see Apple's market share for tablets plummet from 60.3% (2Q12) down to 32.5% (2Q13) while Android rockets from 38% to 62.6% in a near reversal of fortune.
Microsoft is perhaps the surprise winner behind the two major players with a near 500% rise in sales, although only from 1% to 4.5%, with not many Windows RT sales as Windows tablet sales start to climb. And with a price cut on the Surface Pro tablet announced, expect it to rise further.
I'd Like to Have An Argument, Please
Of course, Apple still has the enviable margins in its hardware and the profits from the iTunes and App ecosystem that the others largely lack, in one or other cases. You can argue the merits of profit versus market share until the end of time, but Apple's slow pace, and the chatter about delays, suggest that it is letting the rest of the world catch up.
However, the company is likely to kick out of its lull soon, with the new hardware running the redesigned iOS 7 operating system, Apple could yet kick off sales, but the rise and lack of variation of tablets hasn't had the impact that we've seen in smartphones, with power being the main driver, but not really an essential for many users.
Still, with a new Kindle Fire on the way, Microsoft's likely upcoming Surface refresh and a host of new partner machines coming, there could still be plenty of change as Apple and Samsung fight over the top spots.