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© alexan24 dreamstime.com Business | May 31, 2013

Tablet shipments reaching Tipping Point

Apple has been able to maintain its tablet lead by delivering a quality experience at a premium price.
The iPad maker exited the first calendar quarter of 2013 with 50% share of all tablet shipments, though, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research, the Android ecosystem is poised to overtake iOS.

The big variable for Android is China. The Middle Kingdom is passionate about the Apple brand as well as the masses’ ability to afford technology devices. Smaller, 7-inch Android tablets have become popular though most lack the Google suite of apps and Android Play marketplace. A push for sub-$200 tablets is keeping Android relevant in both developed and emerging markets.

“It’s inevitable that Android tablets will overtake iOS-powered slates, though we see no single vendor challenging Apple’s dominance anytime soon,” says senior practice director Jeff Orr. “With media tablets commercially available for more than 4 years, momentum is shifting toward value and affordability, putting tablets in more of the population’s reach.”

Average selling price (ASP) and size have been moving down-market since Android tablets started honing in on the opportunity in 2012. Rather than try to unseat Apple in the 10”-class space, tablet vendors sought a defensible area they could own; the result is the 7”-class devices.

Facing manufacturing limits in its first quarter of offer, the 7.9-inch iPad mini put a dent in the larger iPad sales and Apple profits. The first quarter of 2013 saw Apple cover its backlog and approach the typical 4-6 weeks of sales channel inventory while recording its second-best ever quarter for total iPad shipments. ABI Research estimates that iPad mini represented 49% of units and 39% of total iPad revenues. “Expect iPad minis to become the predominant iPad model after the June quarter,” adds Orr.

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