Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet led the surge for Google’s Android operating system claim to 39 percent of the market
Amazon’s Kindle Fire helped power market share for tablets based on Google’s Android operating system to 39 percent market share for the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 29 percent a year ago.
Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, up 150 percent from 10.7 million units in Q4 2010, according to researcher Strategy Analytics. Worldwide tablet shipments topped 66.9 million units in full-year 2011, surging 260 percent from 18.6 million in full-year 2010.
iPad still roars
With 15.4 million iPads sold for Q4, Apple accounted for the lion’s share of tablet sales. However, the company’s tablet share dropped to 58 percent, down from 68 percent from the fourth quarter a year ago, as Android narrowed the gap.
The researchers counted the Android-based Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader as an Android tablet, which bolstered the market share figures.
The Kindle Fire, a seven-inch, $199 (£127) slate running a custom version of Android, sold millions of units in the holiday quarter. That, above all, accounts for Android’s 10 percent year-over-year market share gain. Android tablet shipments tripled to 10.5 million units.
It also bears noting that Apple’s reported iPad shipments are for units sold, while the aggregate of Android tablet makers simply count units shipped to retailers.
To that end, Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said dozens of Android models distributed across multiple countries by numerous brands such as Amazon, Samsung, Asus and others have been driving volumes.
Moreover, Android is popular with tablet manufacturers despite concerns about fragmentation of Android’s operating system, user interface and app store ecosystem.
For example, Google branched out from its smartphone OS to offer Android Honeycomb for tablets last year. Moreover, Android OEMs customise their phones and developers write applications that do not run on every platform build.
Today, tablets are a two-horse race between Android and iOS, as the Hewlett-Packard TouchPad sales were slim and Research In Motion’s Blackberry PlayBook continues its descent. The researcher said Microsoft captured one percent global tablet share in Q4 2011.
However, that should change in 2012 as tablets come to the fore bearing Windows 8, which wowed watchers at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month.