Over 34 million tablets shipped in Q2 2013, a 43 percent year-on-year increase, according to market figures released by analyst firm Canalys last week (1 August 2013). Tablets now account for 31 percent of worldwide PC shipments.
While Samsung and other Android tablet makers have seemed better performance, Apple's performance faltered. Its tablet shipments declined 14 percent on Q2 2012 and its market share dropped to 43 percent.
Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer each grew annually by over 200 percent, driven by increasing demand for small-screen tablets.
Canalys estimates that 68 percent of tablets shipped in second quarter of this year had a screen size smaller than 9-inches. "Consumers have been evaluating tablets and the results are now in," said Tim Coulling, Canalys Senior Analyst. "With touch-screens contributing to a high proportion of the build cost of a tablet, small-screen products can be priced very aggressively."
Apple's decline in shipments and share has been partly attributed to its ageing portfolio. But Canalys believes that new product launches will have less impact on its shipments in future. "When Apple does decide to refresh its iPad range it will not experience the buzz of previous launches," said Canalys Analyst James Wang.
"Tablets are now mainstream products and hardware innovation is increasingly difficult. With branded Android tablets available for less than US$150, the PC market has never been so good for consumers, who are voting with their wallets," Wang added.
The move to smaller tablets has sparked a price war that has real consequences for the entire supply chain. These products generate little absolute margin for channel partners, vendors or component manufacturers. Content, applications and accessories (especially cases and keyboards) are now even more important to boost margins—areas where Apple remains a leader.
Despite its 53 percent share, Android still lags far behind iOS in the availability of fully-optimised tablet apps, and tablet app downloads from the Apple App Store dwarf those from Google Play. But Android is expected to continue to close the ecosystem lead iOS has in tablets and increase share in coming quarters.
"Developers can and will quickly switch their priorities as different opportunities evolve and improve," said Canalys Senior Analyst Tim Shepherd. 'We expect to see a substantial increase in the quantity, as well as the quality, of apps built or optimised for Android tablets over the next 12 months, as Google brings more attention to them through improvements to the Play store, and as the addressable base of devices continues to soar."
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