Android Takes Top Tablet OS Crown - InformationWeek

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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.

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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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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"?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
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.  
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/5/2014 | 10:46:43 AM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
That's kind of my point Thomas.  Leaving Zune closed the door on getting ahead on mobile service and product revenue until well after Apple and Google did so.  Some times a "reboot" is necessary but Micrsoft must have re-booted their mobile strategy three or four times to finally end up with Windows 8 for everything too little too late mistake.  To be sure Microsoft will claw its way back into the mobile market as the synergy for Windows will make it so, probably with Win9.
DDURBIN1
IW Pick
100%
0%
DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/5/2014 | 10:38:11 AM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
That's a really good point on Microsofts innovation labs.  Its a leadership issue, being able to pick the right innovations.  Xerxo had the same troubles.  Their labs were quite innovative but not Xerox leadership letting others cash-in on their ideas.  Same for Kodak.  Just goes to show how poor leadership can negatively affect business.   
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/4/2014 | 6:48:29 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
Microsoft isn't helped by trying to emulate Apple and Google while relying on Windows and Office sales. It needs ad (and service) revenue to offset its software development costs if it wants to compete with Google on price. And it needs truly top-notch hardware married with appealing software to challenge Apple. Or rather it needed those things three years ago.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2014 | 3:12:24 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake

Has ANY Microsoft product been a success with the 1.0 version?  How about the 2.0 version?  No, Microsoft usually takes at least three cracks at a product before finding the right solution the market accepts.  Even though there were several "generations" of Zunes, not much changed.  MS basically quit on Zune after the first version.  Had MS continued more market research and done their usual product redesign they might have figured out something more acceptable to the market for Zune, WinPhone and Surface instead of waiting to start all over after Apple and Google.  It also didn't help that the Zune store charged more than twice the iTunes rate for music.

Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
3/4/2014 | 2:14:57 PM
Re: Microsoft's biggest mistake
I think Zune was dead in the water. Keeping that alive would not have helped MS mobile story, IMHO.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/4/2014 | 12:35:30 PM
Microsoft's biggest mistake
Microsoft owes most of its tablet woes to the abandonment of Zune.  Apple's iPod was the first step to the iPhone then followed with the iPad.  Had Microsoft redesigned the Zune and kept the Zune with the Zune store viable they would be sharing the market with Apple while the Android had very little traction.  Instead it's the Surface with very little traction.
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