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iPad No Longer the Tablet of the Majority

According to new research, Apple's iPad line no longer holds a majority share of the tablet market.

While the iPad is still the single most popular tablet in the world, its dominance dropped to a mere plurality by the end of last year, losing nearly 17 percentage points, according to market research firm Gartner. In 2012, the iPad line accounted for 52.8 percent of all tablets sold worldwide, with total shipments hitting 61.5 million units. In 2013, that market share dropped to 36 percent, with 70.4 million units shipped.

What happened?

Android tablets came into the mainstream. In 2012, Android tablets held 45.8 percent of the overall tablet market worldwide (53.3 million units). In 2013, that grew to 61.9 percent, with unit shipments more than doubling to 120.9 million.

Microsoft Windows-based tablets also began a modest encroachment on Apple's share, increasing from 1 percent (1.2 million units) in 2012 to 2.1 percent (4 million units) in 2013.

Overall, tablets hit 195.4 million units worldwide, up about 68 percent from 2012.

"In 2013, tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications," said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditized, in 2014, it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value — beyond just hardware and cost — to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."

Apple remains solidly in the No. 1 position when looking at individual manufacturers, with nearly double the market share of the next leading competitor, Samsung.

Samsung's share, however, more than doubled in 2013. In 2012, the company's tablets accounted for just 7.4 percent of all tablet shipments worldwide (8.6 million units). That grew to 19.1 percent in 2013, hitting 37.4 million units.

Asus, in third position, remained relatively stable with a 5.6 percent market share (versus 5.4 percent in 2012) on unit shipments of 11 million (versus 6.2 million in 2012).

Amazon lost market share but increased total unit shipments. Its devices accounted for 4.8 percent of all tablets shipped worldwide in 2013 (9.4 million units), down from 6.6 percent in 2012 (7.7 million units).

No. 5 Lenovo saw a tripling of unit shipments in 2013, hitting 6.5 million (3.3 percent share), up from 2.2 million (1.9 percent share) in 2012.

Gartner said that in 2014, the trend will be toward "hybrid ultramobile" devices, which combine the functionality of a tablet and a PC. According to the firm: "Gartner expects replacement buyers to start upgrading to hybrid ultramobiles that will be introduced into the market from 2014, satisfying users who no longer want to deal with owning multiple devices or who want to keep up with the latest computing trend."

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at .

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