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Android tablets to overtake iPad in mid-2013 says analyst

Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 will not be hurt by iPad mini as total sector booms, predicts report from Finvista


Published: 15 November, 2012

READ MORE: Metrics | Tablet | Android | iOS

Android vendors have been making hay during the waiting period for the iPhone 5, and the ground they gained in the middle portion of the year will even position them to challenge the mighty iPad in the tablet segment.

Android tablets will overtake the iPad for the first time in the second or third quarter of 2013, predicts analyst Sameer Singh of Finvista Advisors in a research note (though of course, this refers to scores of Android models taking on just two iPad families).

Singh says that shipments of tablets running the Google OS - such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus ranges - have outpaced the iPad's sequential growth in six of the past eight quarters, with the launch of the Fire a year ago being the key factor in narrowing the gap with the market leader. The Fire defined a new category which broadened the total tablet sector, introducing a low cost approach which generated revenue for its vendor mainly via content sales. Apple was manoeuvered into responding with the recent launch of the iPad mini, while Google's Nexus 7 falls into the same category.

According to IDC analysts, shipments of Android tablets rose to 13.8m during the third quarter of 2012, reducing the iPad's lead to 50.4%, from 66.5% in Q212.

In his note, Singh wrote: "OEMs have learned from Amazon's model that diversified price points would help expand the market and take share from the iPad. This has resulted in far more broad-based growth, which is not only sustainable, but should result in an accelerated ramp-up of sales over the next three to four quarters. Q1 2013 is likely to see a cyclical dip in shipments, but we are unlikely to see a crash. The growth pattern across OEMs is very similar to the dynamics in the early stages of the smartphone market, which suggests that tablets are finally being adopted by mainstream users."

In a bright note for Apple, he expects the firm to increase its share to 55%, at least temporarily, during this quarter, because of the impact of the smaller iPad, but unlike some analysts, he does not think the new model will steal too many sales from Android rivals. He points out that sales of Kindle Fire HDs leapt on the launch of the iPad mini, presumably because Apple has endorsed the smaller form factor it once scorned, lending cachet - but the Amazon and Google products remain significantly cheaper than their new competitor.

Singh adds: "The iPad would have to consistently outpace the growth of Android tablets over the next year to hold on to its market leadership position, which is quite unlikely. Therefore, current tablet market share trends are consistent with my prediction of Android tablets overtaking the iPad by mid-2013. However, both platforms should see rapidly rising volumes, as market share gains will be growth driven." He did not factor the impact of Microsoft's Windows RT tablets into his forecasts at this stage.

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