Android will dominate Apple in the tablet war

The media seems convinced that Android tablets will not be able to keep up with the IPad. One article even refers to them as dead on arrival. After seeing the success of the Android OS in mobile, it is clear that it is only a matter of time before Android will dominate Apple in the tablet war.

Lets review how it all went down with the phones. Google’s first Android phone, the G1, debuted in late 2008. Anybody looking back in the summer of 2009 would probably say that it was not looking good for Android’s chances in putting a dent into the IPhone market share. The software was still young, needed work, and it did not have the backing of a major carrier. Flash forward to November 2009 when the Droid debuted with Android 2.0 Eclair on Verizon Wireless. About 1 year later the reports were showing that the Android OS had topped Apple’s IOS in the US and in many other parts of the world. How did they do it? They did it with multiple manufacturers blitzing the market with a tremendous amount of support from Verizon Wireless with the Droid brand.

Now it is about to happen again with tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tab debuted last year with minimal impact as compared to the Droid phone launch, but they still managed to put a decent dent in Apple’s share of the tablet market. For the 4th quarter of 2010, Android tablets (mostly Samsung) grabbed 22% of the market share according to Strategy Analytics. Apple accounted for 75%. This was down 20% from the previous quarter where Apple led tablet sales with a 95% share. The Galaxy Tab represented an ice breaker for Android. It was never expected to be a major force as Honeycomb was still in the works, but it still took a decent market share.

Motorola released the XOOM with Honeycomb 3 weeks ago and the reports are that sales are slow. Is anyone surprised with this news? Apple’s number one mover is the Wi-Fi-only version and Motorola chose to only release the 3G version. On March 27th the Wi-Fi-only XOOM will be available at major retailers like Best Buy, Radio Shack, Costco, Staples, Amazon, Walmart, and Sam’s Club. According to a study done in January of this year by Forrester, 40% of consumers would rather buy a tablet in a consumer electronics store like Best Buy as opposed to 11% saying they would prefer to buy a tablet from a mobile service provider like Verizon. Up until now the Galaxy Tab and the XOOM were only available with mobile service providers. With no Wi-Fi-only option for either tablet, the chance for growth was minimal.

March 27th will define a pivitol point in the tablet war, but probably not the same impact as the Droid had with mobile. Most people feel the XOOM, along with Google Honeycomb, was rushed because of the IPAD 2. The Android tablet software will continue to evolve much like the phone OS did. By the summer there will be Android tablets available from HTC, Samsung, Toshiba, Acer, Dell, and others. Sounds like the same type of manufacturer blitz that happened with Android phones.

It took a total of 2 years for the Android OS to dominate the mobile market. I expect the Android rise in tablet market share to be quicker because the base is already there. Over 60 Million Android phones were sold in 2010 worldwide. If those current owners want to buy a tablet, wouldn’t the natural fit be an Android tablet? Most mainstream consumers who already own a particular OS for their mobile handset will more then likely choose the same OS for their tablet. It is just easier. The apps will be synced between devices and the OS will have the same feel. Why do you think the IPad was so successful? The millions of people who already owned an IPhone started buying the IPad because they were already drinking the Steve Jobs Kool-Aid.

The naysayers will say that with the debut of the IPhone on Verizon, all of these Android users will reverse course and buy the IPhone and therefore want to buy the IPad. Verizon had the biggest impact on Android in the US. Recently Verizon stopped all 1 year upgrades. Most users are on a 2 year contract and will not be eligible for a new phone for 20 months (unless they want to pay full retail). This puts the majority of Android users eligible for an upgrade sometime in 2012. Meanwhile the Android OS will continue to evolve and those Android users who want a tablet will most likely go with Android. If those users are not convinced now that Android is the better OS, they will be by the time their contract is up.

The only thing that can derail Android would be if overall tablet sales are not as strong as everyone is predicting. That would be very interesting because someone still needs to convince me that I need a tablet, but I will leave that for another article. The other caveat could be the Blackberry Playbook. Blackberry has a very strong following and what makes the Playbook interesting is the rumor that it will be compatible with Android apps. The downside for Blackberry is there will only be one manufacturer. I am still predicting by this time next year, if Android is not the number 1 OS in tablets, they will be very close.

About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.

  • moh

    You forget, iPhone was secluded to the AT&T carrier, a big boon for the Android phones. With the iPad this does not apply, and I don’t think you will see the same results among tablets that we have witnessed with phones.

  • varun

    TRUE STORY.. Android is already rocking ..

  • Bo

    I found your article very interesting with good key points. One thing I have to contribute to this article is I am an owner of the motorola Droid (1st edition). I bought this device purely on the fact that AT&T was not available in my area thus making buying an iPhone not an option. I love my Droid in what it can do in every sense. I started reading about tablets when the Samsung Galaxy Tab came out only for having the android OS on it. I was also reading about the iPad as well just to have an opinion about what was out there. So, I goto my Verizon store pick up a Samsung Galaxy Tab and also goto WallMart and buy an iPad. Obvious differences between the two are immediate. No problem, what made me want the Galaxy Tab was the specs. For this, I thought I would instantly look part the size and this would blow away the iPad and everything would be in harmony in my full Droid world….wrong. Turning on the iPad, I DID NOT like having to start up iTunes in order to get it running. However, when I did, it was game on. Putting both through the same tests, opening websites, opening apps, throwing everything I could at them. In the end, I found the iPad the dominate tablet for me. I almost felt like I turned my back on a friend and threw him off a cliff returning the Galaxy Tab to the store. I have not regretted choosing this tablet, I have found this to be a wonderful tablet to many reasons. So, to say android users will simply follow the android brand and choose to only get android products, in my opinion, is reaching a little. Hopefully, I will one day get a XOOM and my persuasion will go towards android.

    • Robert Nazarian

      I think for hardcore users like yourself, it is more likely they could adopt different brands/OS’s for tablets and phones, but this article is about the mainstream which makes up the bulk of sales. I believe mainstream users are not as tech savvy as we are therefore will be more inclined to stay on the path they are on. Steve Jobs is hoping I am wrong.

  • Joey

    You Fandroids make me laugh. Google will not compete in the tablet space until at least 2012. Apple faces more competition from WebOS than from you guys. Get over yourselves.

  • Jason

    Don’t take this the wrong way, because I like driod. But droid is nothing compared to apple. Apple supplies software and hardware, where droid is nothing more then software. If it were not for other cell phone makers fearing death by the iPhone, droid would of never taken off. Proof is that hardly no one bought the droid phone until offered on competitor devices under the $500 price tag Google was offering, I.e. Samsung, lg, and so on.

  • Scott

    Well of course this will inevitably happen but just like in the smartphone market Apple won’t be losing any profits they’ll still be the one making a big chunk of the profits available in the tablet market for many years to come.

  • ari-free

    All they have to do is show TV ads showing websites displaying fully on their tablet vs the same website missing gaps with that ‘other’ tablet and people will get it.

  • adam

    Xoom owner here, hoping that tablets add robust external hardware capabilities (think DIs, midi-style keyboards for music, gaming controllers, etc..) sooner rather than later. THAT is where the boundaries should be pushed.

    A little keyboard or media dock with tinny speakers doesn’t do it for me. I think the developer base will continue to make quality apps for both major platforms and there is a low likelihood of any significant hardware gaps in the next few years.

    I also don’t see other tablet solutions ever being relevant. You’re not going to have something like the mid-to-late 90s open source community actually developing quality stuff for webOS and developers aren’t going to bother putting stuff out for a platform that only sells a few million units.

  • lex

    its really biased. i own iphone and nexus one. i love both. but from what i see, android will not dominate apple in the tablet wars. apple has way better marketing and selling strategy and will always sell more than android. just the way it is. this articles is just a bunch of wishful thinking, not much to back it up tho.

    • Robert Nazarian

      Of course I am biased. I will admit that, but it does not mean I am wrong. Believe me, Apple will sell IPads. They will sell a lot of them, but so will the Android manufacturers.

  • Lex

    i do not own a tablet, but if i would get any, itd be the ipad. i just do not see, how anyone else can possibly compete. sure, you could fix the android enough, make it usable, but if you come out with a tablet that has a smaller screen and is twice the thickness of the ipad2 then what do you really expect. plus, the prices are not that different. they realllllly have to step it up if they want to compete with apple. i hate to say this, but most of the android tablets coming out right now are dead on arrival. i wish they werent, but what can you do.

    having a better cpu and more memory etc. just doesnt cut it.

  • Ted

    But Bo, I was told that if you buy Apple, you’re a sheep and a fanboi and are just getting it for the logo because it’s fashionable! Are you saying that’s (*gasp*) wrong and Apple products can actually be better?

  • Ted

    Robert, Steve also knows most users are not tech savvy so how does he wish you were wrong? Even if people stay with what works, they’re likely staying with Apple