Low Cost Android Tablets Level Market Share with Apple’s iPad

| News

Nearly one quarter of U.S. adults now own a tablet device, according to a report by the Pew Research Center released Monday. Of those, 48 percent own Android-based tablets, a dramatic increase from 2011, when Apple’s iPad dominated the market with an 81 percent share.

The tablet numbers were part of a broader Pew study into the “Future of Mobile News,” and were based on a survey of 9,513 U.S. adults between June 29 and August 8, 2012.

Pew Tablet Share By Year

Results from the survey revealed that 22 percent owned a tablet device and an additional 3 percent regularly used a tablet owned by someone else in the home. These numbers represent significant increases from previous surveys conducted in July 2011 and January 2012, which showed tablet ownership rates of 11 and 18 percent, respectively.

Pew Tablet Marketshare 2011

The flood of low-cost Android-based tablets into the market likely played a major role in the increase of both tablet adoption overall and Android’s market share gains, although better user experiences on the Android platform as the software matures cannot be ruled out.

Pew Tablet Share By Platform

Amazon started the low-cost race among major manufacturers with its US$199 Kindle Fire tablet, released in late September 2011. Since then, major Android players Google, Barnes & Noble, and Samsung have all released low-cost tablets at price points less than half of Apple’s iPad. Amazon also recently updated its tablet line, dropping the entry-level Kindle to $159 and adding an 8.9-inch model at $299.

Although based on Android, Amazon follows a model for its Fire tablets that is closer to Apple’s closed system than to Google’s completely open approach. As such, Pew’s report identifies what percentage the Kindle Fire line adds to Android’s marketshare overall.

Pew Tablet Marketshare

At 21 percent, Amazon holds a large portion of marketshare and shows the tablet race to be more diverse than it appears upon first glance. Trailing Amazon for Android tablet marketshare is Samsung’s Galaxy tablet line, with 8 percent marketshare. A mix of many other tablets comprise the remaining 19 percent.

Of note, the survey was conducted before Google released its flagship Nexus 7, and prior to Amazon’s Kindle price drop and introduction of additional models.

The report also identified the presence of brand or platform loyalty among consumers, although the results may be surprising. Of those survey respondents who owned both a tablet and a smartphone, 57 percent of iPad owners also owned an iPhone, compared to 32 percent who owned an Android-based smartphone. Similarly, 66 percent of Android tablet owners owned an Android smartphone, while 29 percent owned an iPhone.

The tablet ownership numbers revealed by Pew’s study are poised to change in the coming months. As noted above, the survey was performed before the release and price drops of key Android products from Google and Amazon, and Apple’s much-rumored iPad mini is expected to be unveiled this month. Depending on price and features, an iPad mini has the potential to swing marketshare back in Apple’s favor as more U.S. adults continue to shift to mobile platforms.

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Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Although based on Android, Amazon follows a model for its Fire tablets that is closer to Apple’s closed system than to Google’s completely open approach.

So long as you can side-load app—which you can without any nefarious work—the Kindle Fire lie is on Google’s 20 yard line. DId you know that on KFire, you can download Firefox and install it, directly, without hitting any app store? Not so on the iPad, where the “upgraded” Safari in iOS 6 buggered many popular web applications.

At any rate, I know my RonMacGuy character will be chiming in about how my tablet market share predictions look to be 6-12 months early, and that I should be banned from TMO for actually laughing at the Samsung “next big thing” commercial. Stand up for the truth, brother!

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

grrr… the Kindle Fire lives on...

JC Will

Definately - the “Tablet Wars” are heating up—the Nook, Nexus 7 and Kindle HD are good products - I actually just bought another Android tablet that came out last week that’s worth a look called the Novo 7 Flame by Ainol Electronics, priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint - it really gives Kindle and Nexus a run for their money with a high resolution screen, 5 megapixel Rear Camera and 2 MP webcam, Full 1080p HDMI & an option for 3G -  worth checking out and comparing - especially for the price of $189—price is the biggest advantage of Android devices - I’m sure the anticipated Mini iPad is going to be at least a $100 more - and for such a small screen device, I’d rather pocket the savings and go with an Android—


The “Tablet wars” are not “heating up”.  It’s only the race to the bottom of the barrel that’s getting tight.  I’ve seen many sub-$200 tablets and they truly are junk.  Actually, those tablets are an insult to the word “junk”.

While the Kindle is technically an Android device, it is not really part of the Android ecosystem as it is fully locked-down by Amazon.  Selling it at a loss is only going to get it so far.  Sure people with the know-how can break it and load Android on it but that is a ridiculously small minority.

So stop making it sound like these Chinese-knockoff craplets are the next big thing.  Sure people will buy them, but I’ll bet most end up gathering dust in people’s desk drawers or in landfill.  The quality of them are just so bad

It was only a few weeks ago that the iPads garnered 98% of the tablet web traffic.  That says much about what those garbage tablets are used for.


Here’s what the article says: “but the once-dominant iPad has been hit hard by a flood of low-cost Android options”.

Nonsense. The iPad is not “hit hard”. Apple sells tablets, Amazon sells eBook readers. What Amazon sells is good enough for someone wanting an eBook reader and nothing else, but anyone wanting to buy a tablet doesn’t even give it a look.

And there will be a lot of sad children this Christmas who get a $100 Android tablet that turns out to be not useful for anything. This will change the percentage of unit sales for the iPad, but it doesn’t take anything away from actual sales and doesn’t “hit” the iPad in any way.


“Nonsense. The iPad is not ‘hit hard’.”

Well spotted, gnasher729. I am unaware of any data suggesting a slow-down in iPad sales due to tablet sales by another manufacturer (which doesn’t mean the data don’t exist, only that I haven’t seen them).

Apple appear to be selling every iPad they make, with practically zero inventory at quarter’s end. The iPad does not appear to be hit hard. Rather, we see a statistical phenomenon reflecting additional entrants into the denominator, dwindling the fraction of all tablets made up by iPads; rather like saying I have 10 men in the room comprising 100% of the room’s population, now I add 10 women, and the fraction of men is 50% - the absolute number of men hasn’t changed, the denominator just increased. Likewise, an increase in denominator size is not the same thing as a decrease in iPad sales due to competitors’ sales.

As for the other tablets entering the market, I for one would welcome deeper analysis on to whom these other tablets are being sold, and how/why people are purchasing them. They don’t appear to be showing up on the internet for web browsing, appear to result in fewer app sales, and are not making the inroads into the enterprise that the iPad is.

I have suggested before that these may represent very different markets, and that we are comparing consumers who are not comparable by only looking at unit sales. This is not to say that unit sales should not be compared, they should; rather, we need to also understand the market and to whom the devices are being sold and for what purpose.


For a product that is selling nearly as well as the iPad, finding them in the wild being used by real people is still a Livingstone/Stanley-style experience. Maybe that’s just flyover country, though. Now, ebook readers are a different story. I see those regularly.

“my tablet market share predictions look to be 6-12 months early”

LOL. Only because that’s been a rolling prediction for more than 2 years now.


“For a product that is selling nearly as well as the iPad, finding them in the wild being used by real people is still a Livingstone/Stanley-style experience. “

jfbiii: I like that. MInd if I borrow that expression sometime, or perhaps you’d consider licensing it to me under FRAND terms?

I think your observation might indeed be confounded by demography. In my circles, which are largely both professional and academic, iPads abound; not so other tablets. Indeed, I never enter a business lounge on any continent but that I see iPads in it, not to mention a parity, if not predominance, of Macs relative to PCs.

Where I do see other tablets (though not many) is in developing countries, particularly those where Apple have yet to open a store. This, too, is where I see Android smartphones, often of Chinese OEM make.

Even in the 21st Century, location and circle of contacts define the universe in which you live, more than we might wish.


Non Apple tablets called “others” exist in the same dimension as mopeds in the vehicular realm much the same as flippers are to real boats, a cheese sandwich to a Thanksgiving meal at grandma’s, a squeaky toy to a piano.


Borrow away. Steal even. I like it too much to keep it to myself.


As an abashedly Android fan, I tried a number of tablets (including the original iPad).  I didn’t like any of them.  They all let me down in some form or another - until the Nexus 7 came along.  That’s an excellent tablet.  And not just because of the price.  It’s light, fast, smooth, great for browsing, checking mail etc.  After a while, all my tablets gathered dust.  This is the only one that I use daily.  Apparently, this survey did not take the Nexus 7 into consideration.  If that’s true, then Android is almost certainly past the 50% now.

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