Android tablets threaten Apple

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Google enjoys tablet success

Google is eating into Apple's dominance of the tablet market, according to the latest figures.

Research from technology intelligence providers Strategy Analytics found that Google's Android operating system accounted for 39.1 per cent of global tablet sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 29 per cent a year earlier. Meanwhile, the percentage of tablets powered by Apple's iOS shrank by a similar amount to 57.6 per cent, down from 68.2 per cent.

Tablet sales up 260%

The tablet market as a whole continued to grow dramatically. Total shipments hit a new high of 18.6 million worldwide in 2011 - a rise of 260 per cent compared to 2010. Thanks to the iPad and iPad 2, Apple remains the biggest player, selling 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter alone. Android may have only shifted 10.5 million units, but Google will be heartened to see that it appears to be catching up fast.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, remarked: "Global Android tablet shipments tripled annually to 10.5 million units. Dozens of Android models distributed across multiple countries by numerous brands such as Amazon, Samsung, Asus and others have been driving volumes."

Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, feels that the growing popularity of Android is being driven by several factors. "Google is clearly being helped by its decision to tap into the considerable marketing power of high-profile brands like Samsung and Amazon. It is also benefitting from price wars between smaller companies that are building entry-level devices. But perhaps most importantly, Google is reaping the rewards after investing heavily in research and development for its tablet operating system Honeycomb.