With Apple revealing the iOS 7 to the world, tablet shipments have reached a tipping point for Android to overtake iOS.
Market intelligence from ABI Research suggests the Android ecosystem is poised to move ahead of iOS, despite Apple exiting the first calendar quarter of the year with a 50% share of all tablet shipments.
"Apple has been able to maintain its tablet lead by delivering a quality experience at a premium price," says Jeff Orr, senior practice director, ABI Research.
"The big variable for Android is China."
Orr says the Middle Kingdom is passionate about the Apple brand as well as the masses’ ability to afford technology devices, but a push for sub-$200 tablets is keeping Android relevant in both developed and emerging markets.
“It’s inevitable that Android tablets will overtake iOS-powered slates, though we see no single vendor challenging Apple’s dominance anytime soon,” he says.
“With media tablets commercially available for more than four years, momentum is shifting toward value and affordability, putting tablets in more of the population’s reach.”
Scheduling an Android and Windows event for June 20, Samsung is expected a launch a host of new devices, while Apple is currently in the midst of its WWDC this week.
Orr says the average selling price and size have been moving down-market since Android tablets started honing in on the opportunity last year.
But rather than try to unseat Apple in the 10”-class space, tablet vendors sought a defensible area they could own; the result is the 7”-class devices.
Facing manufacturing limits in its first quarter of offer, the 7.9-inch iPad mini put a dent in the larger iPad sales and Apple profits according to market figures.
The first quarter of 2013 saw Apple cover its backlog and approach the typical 4-6 weeks of sales channel inventory while recording its second-best ever quarter for total iPad shipments.
ABI Research estimates that iPad mini represented 49% of units and 39% of total iPad revenues.
“Expect iPad minis to become the predominant iPad model after the June quarter,” adds Orr.