Tablet market: extension of the Android vs. iOS battlefield

Google and Apple are well-known rivals for the mobile OS share at the smartphone battlefield. By now the competition has already extended to the other field – the tablet market. The tablet market was pioneered by Apple with its iPad. It has been months that they faced no competition and Apple is currently dominating: the iPad started shipping in April and became an instant hit, and Apple reported selling more than 7 million iPads by the end of September. Research firm Strategy Analytics released data showing Apple with 95% of tablet sales in the quarter ended September 30. Meanwhile, Android’s share of the market slipped to 2.3% from 2.9%.
But it’s evident Android is trying to make headway into this direction. Samsung unveiled its Android-powered Galaxy Tab in early September, while HTC, Dell and Motorola also have Android tablets in the works. In addition, HP, RIM and MS are coming out with tablets, as are Acer and Nokia.

Apple’s dominant market share is already facing a challenge as features such as cameras, Flash support, USB ports, Google Apps integration and portability improvements draw attention to Android tablets. These are some prominent features the iPad lacks. Who knows – maybe Android tablets within a year or year and a half could outsell the iPad. Especially if they still stick to their price advantage. FYI – overall, global tablet sales in the 3rd quarter were 4.4 million, a 26% increase over the 3.5 million units shipped in the 2nd quarter. Analyst firm Gartner has pegged tablet sales worldwide to reach 19.5 million units in 2010, predicting a tripling of tablet sales in 2011 to 54.8 million units. Interesting how will market share shake out in 2011 and couple next years? Clearly Apple won’t retain 95% of the tablet market…

The current market observations show there is sort of customers’ wait-and-see attitude. Many say it’s too early to buy a tablet: devices prices are high, and the tablets variety is too modest.

The army of new tablets with Android and MS OSes is expected to provide users with more choice. At the same time, with dozens or even hundreds of varieties to choose from, ordinary consumers may feel paralyzed about which to buy. And buy iPad 🙂 that is always committed to the form factor and its UI quality. Many iFans anticipate increased possibilities from the next-generation iPad as far as Apple has already shown its willing to cannibalize its own devices lines.

And what do you think: Will the scenario repeat itself (like it has been in the mobile market)? Do you believe Apple will finally dare to take these critical steps or will just remain stuck to its current policy?
You are welcome to leave your comments. Would be happy to hear them.