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3/4/2014
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Android Takes Top Tablet OS Crown

Android's rise presents a threat to Apple in the long term and hurts Microsoft right now.

Mobile World Congress: 5 Hot Gadgets
Mobile World Congress: 5 Hot Gadgets
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Since its introduction in 2010, Apple's iPad has dominated the tablet market, a market that it remade in its own image. But sales of tablets running Google's Android operating system have now outpaced tablets running Apple's iOS.

Globally, Android tablet sales in 2013 reached almost 121 million, up from 53 million in 2012, an increase of 127%, according to IT research firm Gartner. Sales of Apple's iPad and iPad Mini came to 70 million during this period, an increase of 36%. That's just over half the overall tablet market growth rate of 68%. Apple's iPad is not keeping up with the pace of the market.

At the end of 2013, Android tablet sales accounted for 62% of the market, while iOS tablets represented 36%.

Apple, however, remains the leading tablet maker. It sold over 70 million tablets in 2013, almost twice as many as the second largest tablet maker, Samsung.

Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, characterized 2013 as the year tablets went mainstream by being affordable and functional. Cozza, in a statement, stressed that tablet vendors will have to focus on creating value as a way to combat commoditization.

There's a third tablet operating system, though relatively few people use it at the moment: Microsoft sold more than twice as many Windows 8 tablets in 2013 than it did in 2012, but its tablets account for just 2% of the overall market. Although Microsoft continues to improve Windows 8, most recently with the release of Windows 8.1, Cozza argued that Microsoft needs to do more to make its ecosystem compelling to consumers. A new CEO is a start.

Though the Android tide has broken Apple's dominance, Apple remains a force to be reckoned with, particularly among businesses. During Apple's recent fourth quarter of 2013 earnings call, CEO Tim Cook highlighted enterprise acceptance of the iPad. He said, "90% of tablet activations in corporations are iPads, and 95% of total app activations were all in iOS, and I think that's an incredible measure of ultimately how sticky the products are because you can get so much productivity out of an iPad and an iPhone."

These figures concur with, and may originate from, Google Technology's Mobility Index Report Q4 2013, which notes that "iOS continues to have a stronghold on tablet use within the enterprise, recording 91.4% of total tablet activations in Q4."

[Employee-owned devices don't have to be a management headache. See Make BYOD Work: 9 Key Considerations.]

Cook has emphasized that Apple continues to be focused on product quality rather than quantity. The company is also focused on profit margins, something few mobile hardware makers have, apart from Apple and Samsung.

Android's rise presents a threat to Apple in the long term, but its immediate impact may be to wring all the potential profit from the business of selling mobile operating systems so that Microsoft's mobile products can't take root. As it happens, the European Commission is investigating that charge. Apple, meanwhile, remains protected within its walled garden, for now at least.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2014 | 8:26:36 AM
Re: Android takes the lead
It's not horrible but there are some apps that are just clunky inside Bluestacks.  Some just plain refuse to rotate to an orientation that is actually usable inside the application.  Aside from that it's about like running a virtual machine environment inside Windows.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2014 | 8:25:15 AM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
Here's to hoping that Nadella brings an innovative spirit to Microsoft.  They are long due for this.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 4:27:50 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
"It's a leadership issue, being able to pick the right innovations."


Bingo. There's no shortage of awesome stuff happening at Microsoft. But the company has misjudged when and how to bring a lot of tech to market. Nadella's ascension might change that.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 4:24:54 PM
Re: Android takes the lead
It's true that Gartner and IDC statistics are questionable. And even if they were accurate, I think market share is less important than ecosystem revenue, product margins, etc. Market share isn't unimportant, and with high-growth opportunities increasingly confined to emerging markets, Apple has some reason to be concerned. But all things considered, the iPad still wins the battles that matter.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
3/7/2014 | 4:22:05 PM
Re: Android takes the lead
How's your experience with that, SaneIT? There've been a lot of rumors that Microsoft might officially sanction Android apps in Windows. And Nokia X and Intel's Dual OS are actually real. Do you think Android apps would address the Windows "app gap"?
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/6/2014 | 9:20:58 AM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
Google Play took a while to catch up with business-targeted apps. Now, most of the tools I rely on daily on my iPad are available with the same features on an Android tablet. Even as little as a year ago that wasn't the case.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
3/6/2014 | 8:25:51 AM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
The door is open but having played with Windows 8 phone I have to say right now what is killing it most is the lack of apps.  The UI is actually quite nice on the phone sized display but when going from my Android phone that does everything I need and more over to the Microsoft Store I was very let down.  I gave up even trying to match the apps on my Android phone and just started trying to find anything that I thought might be close enough replacements.  I gave that up quickly.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2014 | 2:40:04 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
I've never used the Zune. I jumped straight to the iPod, which I guess says a lot. As for a single operating system, I'm not that it can't work. General consensus is that the way Windows 8 tries to meet the needs of both kind sof devices does not work well. However, I can envision a future when it could work if designed differently. I'm not sure how it needs to be designed, but I think it's possible. Maybe just not in 2014.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2014 | 2:35:00 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
Absolutely right on about rate of change, how else would have Android/Samsung competed against Apple.  Zune needed fixing however Windows 8 didn't fix Zune's problems but instead inherited them. Zune had a non-intuitive UI even after four generations of devices. MS learned nothing from Zune but should have.  Maybe MS would have learned one OS for all devices doesn't and won't work.  
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
3/5/2014 | 2:15:43 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
The nature of rapid change in the mobile market these days is in probably good for Microsoft. They are way behind right now, but they make good decisions and fix some of the gaffes with Windows 8, they can get back in the game with Windows 9. It won't be easy, but the mobile market can completely flip in a year at the rate people replace their phones, so it is possible.
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