Active Android Tablets May Soon Pass Apple’s iPad: Does It Matter?

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The iPad maker took a 45 percent share of worldwide tablet shipments in 2013 and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) remained Apple’s nearest OEM brand competitor with a 23 percent share, according to ABI Research. While unit shipments in the overall tablet market declined by 30 percent in the first quarter of 2014, ABI Research believes growth will resume later this year.

“Tablet hardware sales from branded OEMs are likely to top US$85 billion this year,” wrote Orr. “We have yet to reach the top of the tablet market and with many world regions just now starting to adopt, the best is yet to come.” As noted by ABI Research, much of the growth in the tablet market is expected to come from emerging markets such as China, where many low-end “white box” tablets are made and sold.

Considering that that the increase in the number of active Android tablets appears to come from the low-end segment of the tablet market, the so-called “tipping point” in the tablet market’s installed base may not qualify as a watershed moment. Apple’s iPad is a relatively expensive tablet that falls into the high-end of the tablet market. In this sense, the growth of the Android tablet installed base will most likely increase pressure on other established Android tablet makers such as Samsung, rather than Apple.

Meanwhile, Apple’s iPad continues to account for the lion’s share of tablet-based Web traffic in the crucial North American market. According to the latest data from online ad network company Chitika, Apple’s iPad accounted for over 77 percent of all U.S. and Canadian tablet-based Web traffic in April 2014. With a dominating installed base lead in North America and a significant lead in worldwide OEM hardware sales, it appears that Apple’s iPad will continue to be the overall tablet market leader in 2014.

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