When it comes to selling tablets, Apple is still the boss, but sales of Android-powered devices edged upward during the fourth quarter of 2011, according to new data from Strategy Analytics.
Apple shipped 15 million iPads worldwide during the fourth quarter, garnering Cupertino 58 percent share of the tablet market. But while Apple still holds the top spot, its share dropped 10 percentage points since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Strategy Analytics.
Android, meanwhile, picked up steam, capturing 39 percent share of the tablet market during the quarter, up from 29 percent a year earlier. Shipments of Android tablets tripled to 10.5 million units during the fourth quarter of 2011, up from just 3.1 million a year earlier.
"Dozens of Android models distributed across multiple countries by numerous brands such as Amazon, Samsung, Asus and others have been driving volumes," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "Android is so far proving relatively popular with tablet manufacturers despite nagging concerns about fragmentation of Android's operating system, user-interface and app store ecosystem."
A total of 27 million tablet devices were shipped globally during the fourth quarter, an all-time-high and a 150 percent increase from 11 million shipped during the same period a year earlier. During 2011 overall, tablet shipments rose 260 percent to 67 million from 19 million in 2010.
"Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong," Peter King, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. Microsoft, meanwhile, captured 1 percent of tablet share during the quarter.
PCMag's mobile analyst, Sascha Segan, however, was quick to point out that Android's global gains probably have a lot to do with the proliferation of cheap Android tablets throughout China.
September data from Gartner found that the iPad will likely dominate the tablet space until at least 2014.
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