iOS loses tablet market share to Android

Strategy Analytics has crunched the global tablet shipment numbers for Q3, and they show a couple of interesting trends. First, the rate of growth has slowed dramatically since last year. Between the third quarters of 2010 and 2011, sales of "modern tablets" surged a whopping 289%. Q3 tablet sales rose only 43% from 2011 to 2012, though. That's still an impressive growth rate, even if it doesn't compare to the initial frenzy. The actual unit counts are substantial, too. Strategy Analytics says 24.7 million tablets shipped in the third quarter alone.

Most of those tablets were iPads, of course, but Apple's grip on the market is slipping. The firm's share of tablet shipments reportedly declined from 64.5% in Q3 last year to 56.7% for the same quarter in 2012. The loss comes at the hands of Android, which grew its share from 29.2% to 41.3% over the same period.

Budget tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 have surely contributed to Android's growing popularity in the tablet world. No wonder Apple launched a low-cost iPad Mini to compete in that space. With prices starting at $329, though, the iPad Mini still costs quite a bit more than comparable offerings from Amazon and Google.

Microsoft's share of the Q3 tablet pie was a measly 1.6%, a number that's sure to increase as Windows 8 and Windows RT devices hit the market. I'm curious to see how research firms following the market will account for convertible tablets, which are in some ways fundamentally different from devices like the iPad.

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