Apple has officially lost bragging rights to the title of top tablet seller in the world, according to a report by Gartner that was released Monday. While Apple remains the top vendor (though by a closing margin), Android has eclipsed iOS for the first time as the top tablet operating system.
It wasn’t even a close race. Sales of Android-based tablets climbed 127% in 2013 to 121 million units, for a market share of 61.9%. By comparison, Apple sold 70.4 million iPads in 2013—up from 61.4 million last year—and its market share declined to 36% from 52.8% in 2012. Android’s market share was 45.8% in 2012.
All told, 195 million tablets were sold in 2013.
That said, Apple still takes the lead as the top tablet vendor in the world with a 36% market share, while Samsung comes in second with a 19.1% of the market, followed by ASUS, Amazon, and Lenovo, all with single digit market shares.
But Samsung is on the rise and may very well overtake Apple in 2014. Sales of Samsung tablets grew 333% in 2013 to 37.4 million tablets, up from 8.6 million in 2012.
In 2012, Apple commanded 52.8% of the market to Samsung’s 7.4%. So the gap is closing quickly.
One likely reason for Apple’s quickly destabilizing position as the leading tablet maker may be the rise of emerging markets. Tablet sales in emerging markets grew 145%, compared to 31% in established markets.
"Apple's tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple's approach will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share,” said Gartner research director Roberta Cozza, in a statement.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s diversity of tablet styles and price points has allowed it to find strong footholds in different market niches.
Several securities analysts have already warned that if Apple doesn’t pursue meaningful expansion into emerging markets, it’s going to see a sizable decline in growth and market share. But Apple just can’t seem to bring itself to do that. The iPhone 5C should have been Apple’s foray into the emerging market, but at only some $100 less than the 5S, the plastic iPhone isn’t doing so hot, and many analysts predict that Apple won’t even sell many units in China.
Similarly, Apple was expected to release an 8 GB iPhone 4 in India for an estimated $245 (R. 15,000), but Apple ended up setting the price at $370 (R. 22,900).
At the rate it’s going, Apple is set to lose more ground in the tablet market.
"In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications," said Roberta Cozza, in a statement. "As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."