Mini tablets fueling Android market share gains

Although Steve Jobs derided 7" tablets in public, he was apparently more enthusiastic about the idea behind closed doors. Jobs believed there would be a market for 7" slates, and boy was he right. According to the latest numbers from IDC, 50% of all tablets shipped this quarter have screen sizes under 8". This tweener tablet category is expected to continue growing, too. According to IDC Research Analyst Jitesh Ubrani, "Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits."

The "surge of smaller, lower-priced devices" has caused IDC to update its tablet forecast for 2013 and beyond. This year’s total tablet shipments are now expected to reach nearly 191 million units, up 11% from the previous estimate. Steady growth is expected through 2017, when 350 million tablets are projected to ship annually. 

Google’s 7" Nexus tweener sandwiched between a jumbo smartphone and a typical tablet

IDC doesn’t break down those shipment estimates by screen size, but it does make a few predictions about market share. No doubt due to the strength of inexpensive tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire, IDC says Android devices will make up 48.8% of the tablet market this year, pushing iOS to second place with 46%. Apple enjoyed a 51% market share in 2012, and Android’s gains reportedly came at its expense.

Windows tablets will purportedly garner 4.7% of the market this year and only 10.1% by 2017. IDC’s crystal ball shows Android continuing to lead iOS four years down the road, with both platforms losing about the same amount of market share to Windows.

Apple’s 7.9" iPad Mini certainly fits the bill for a sub-8" tablet, but it’s not nearly as affordable as 7" devices like the Nexus 7, which starts at only 200 bucks—$129 less than the base Mini. There are no Windows tablets in the 7" range, but HTC is reportedly working on one that will run Windows RT. I’d be curious to see whether such a device could inspire more interest than existing WinRT tablets.

Comments closed
    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    You’re probably more onto it – Samsung proved that you can make money by selling boatloads of these, and Jobs had it in for Samsung so it was probably something he greenlighted not long before he left Apple.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 10 years ago

    Running without fans and x86-compatible being the most important parts of that.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 10 years ago

    Jobs was infamous for hating on something in public so he could plot and scheme to do it later himself in a big way. He also tended to suggest he invented everything, including the question mark and the concept of inventing an already invented invention.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 10 years ago

    Low cost devices, maybe. But the apps still have to be there first.

    • DavidC1
    • 10 years ago

    Compare it to Surface RT: [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/6522/the-clover-trail-atom-z2760-review-acers-w510-tested/7[/url<] The Atom is equal/better in performance while battery is on par per WHr. Based on this, I think two possible reasons MS decided to make RT: -Supplier independency -If in the hypothetical future, the Windows system is so depressed, the cost in "supporting" legacy is a compromise in itself. Windows RT completely avoids legacy altogether. You don't complain about performance when you aren't running demanding applications, or be a power user to use some of the older applications. By locking future of Windows into the Windows 8 app store, they make it easier to standardize. That makes it easier to use the program or optimize it whether for performance or battery life. IMO, only the first makes sense, because the new UI actually sucks for Tablet use. Flash supporting applications aren't supported in the new UI IE and apps like Skype is absolutely horrible in general(in functionality and picture quality). Actually, most of the counterparts in the App store is horrible compared to the equivalent ones in the legacy desktop. Funny, they try to simplify things to the point of uselessness. Ironic.

    • DavidC1
    • 10 years ago

    No there isn’t. If you are looking for Windows 8 Tablet-first use, there’s no better alternative. It performs decent on majority of uses, has great battery life and runs cool without fans.

    • nico1982
    • 10 years ago

    I guess no one cared…

    • Wirko
    • 10 years ago

    So the IDCs and Gartners of the world know exactly what the next iterations of mobile OSes will be capable of and what they will look like? I’m scared!

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 10 years ago

    Release of the Galaxy Tab and his death are closely dated. Coincidence? Hardly.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 10 years ago

    [quote<]Windows tablets will [b<]purportedly[/b<] garner 4.7% of the market this year and only 10.1% by 2017.[/quote<] No one else saw this?

    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 10 years ago

    Totally. The iPad is nice but it’s sweet to be able to pocket the Nexus or hold it with just one hand. Need a lap for the full-fat iPad or pretty long fingers to hold the mini securely with one hand. Nexus screen much nicer than the mini’s, too.

    • shank15217
    • 10 years ago

    why atom when there are better x86 alternatives?

    • HolmesIV
    • 10 years ago

    Right magnitude, wrong sign. Jobs died a year [b<]after[/b<] the first major credible 7" tablet was introduced, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. It was introduced in Sept 2010; I bought mine in Oct; Jobs died in Oct 2011. During the Samsung/Apple trial it came out that Eddy Cue, head of iTunes, had recommended Apple produce a smaller iPad, specifically citing the Galaxy Tab, and noting that Jobs had seemed receptive. The original Tab was not a giant seller; it couldn't be at $700. Samsung probably guessed that Apple would come in at the $1000 mark on the iPad. But for those of us who found a 10" tablet considerably less useful than a 7", and could afford it, it was perfect.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    because they have too much of the market. they’d get antitrust up the ass. they can’t even give their browser away.

    • moog
    • 10 years ago

    I don’t think RT will go away, it was made for better battery life and performance regardless of x86 or ARM.

    • moog
    • 10 years ago

    Why would antitrust prevent Microsoft from giving Win8 for free? (Google does)

    • maxxcool
    • 10 years ago

    the #1 reason I picked up a nexus was it fits in my back pocket… I do not have to carry it ‘in hand’ and my wife likes it beacuse it fits in a medium-small purse quite easiely …

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    OK I goofed up he was only dead 1 year, my bad.

    • demani
    • 10 years ago

    Market share numbers are always a flukey measurement. Anyone selling new products is likely to take marketshare away, since it’s very rare that anyone has a 1:1 customer gain/loss ratio-at these scales its always a larger market every day, and while some people are rising more than others, it also neglects past market share in the comparison. Most people won’t be upgrading tablets nearly as often as their phones, so using the last three years of marketshare data is a bit more accurate. And of course, none of it matters much at all, as products that have small marketshare can still be considered viable businesses (see Apple Macs, Blackberry phones, and Ouya).

    It is interesting to see the rise of the midsize tablet though. It wasn’t particularly well received inititally, but enough iterations have helped bring the market into focus. And I concur that a 7″ with a laptop is an excellent mobile combo (and reduces the need for ever growing phone screens as they become third screens rather than second screens).

    I think that the 7″ tablet can even replace the phone (when the tablet is paired with a BT headset) as the voice controls have improved immensely. They really are a very flexible size. But I still like my big one for my particular purposes.

    • phez
    • 10 years ago

    Maybe if WP8 wasn’t such a damn ugly and incomprehensible operating system, it might have been a better fit for Surface, ala Nexus.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    yeah. i don’t buy that he was all gung ho for them. even if he was, who cares? he didn’t make one.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 10 years ago

    The only hope MS has for Win RT apps is for people to develop for Win 8 and then have a tool to convert it over to RT. I can’t see anyone specifically developing for RT alone either.

    But, I think RT will ultimately die a slow death anyway. With competitive x86 chips coming out I don’t know that there’s much point to RT when the major selling point, the one that justifies the sacrifices, is battery life and form factor.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    “2) Microsoft will want *some* amount of money for the OS”

    Google and Apple seem to be doing just fine here.

    The OS drives the platform and services now. This is why Windows 8 was almost given away (and can’t be due to fear of antitrust, ironically)

    Microsoft just wants to sell skydrive storage bumps and Office in the cloud to keep people on their platform. Selling the OS is so 2000.

    • indeego
    • 10 years ago

    [i<]"Build up apps to help RT in the long run."[/i<] Incur massive development costs to a fairly dead platform? Ever heard of Blackberry? Neo Geo? Developers pour their heart into platforms with viability. Hence the monkey dance Balmer gave a decade ago.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    Does the timeline look funny to anyone else? He had to be dead a full 2 years before something came on the market. That tells me that he fought the idea up until he left Apple and the rest of the world behind.

    • sweatshopking
    • 10 years ago

    thank god we had steve jobs to “be right” about this issue, so every other company could do it years before him.

    • albundy
    • 10 years ago

    i think all sizes should remain around. i currently use my 10″ TP as a replacement for class textbooks. no way is it easy to do on a smaller device unless you zoom in.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 10 years ago

    The road to success for Windows as a platform in tablets is:

    1) Keep RT around as a codebase, but ignore it for now.
    2) Build up apps to help RT in the long run.
    3) Use Atom to make cheaper, smaller tablets.
    4) Build a 7-8″ Surface for $250 that includes Windows 8 (not RT) on Atom.
    5) Take a hit on costs to win over tons of consumers to the platform.

    Microsoft has the money. They can keep wasting it on failures or they can lay it all on the line to win over tons of consumers who are RIGHT NOW deciding the future of whether Windows is an old tech that fades away or a tech that they’re investing in for the foreseeable future.

    MS is trying to have their cake and eat it, too. They have to choose a course.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 10 years ago

    Kind of like [url=https://techreport.com/blog/24489/the-problem-with-windows-convertible-tablets?post=715945<]what I said[/url<] on Cyril's blog post last night. A 7" tablet + a decent ultrabook does everything you could ever want in a mobile. The very best of both worlds. 10" tablets are awkward to hold and use. A sufficiently-high-DPI tablet means you can hold it closer to your face without seeing too much pixelation and still see plenty to read.

    • willmore
    • 10 years ago

    WinRT tablets, even if they can make do with the same hardware as an Android tablet are still going to suffer two limitations:
    1) They’ll need 16GB more flash due to OS overhead
    2) Microsoft will want *some* amount of money for the OS

    Android and iOS are pretty low overhead, yes, they don’t come with Office, but the people using them aren’t as involved in creating documents as they are in viewing and responding to them.

    There’s going to be two camps on this. One that wants a tablet to watch videos, listen to music, browse the web, and sees the overhead (price and storage) of WinRT as a burden. The other who wants to do more Office’y kind of things and sees the iOS/Android *lack* of Office as the inability to do that.

    One plus on the iOS/Android side is that they can still install an Office type suite *if they want it*. Then there are arguements as to how good they are, etc..

    • nico1982
    • 10 years ago

    Because 7-8″ and 300-350 grams are the appropriate size and weight for the task a tablet is most suited for.

    Once they spend a few minuts with a Nexus 7 or an iPad mini, they come to realize that the first impression they had when Jobs showed up on the couch was the right one: a 10″ tablet is just an awkward contraption.

    More or less like 17″ laptops: there’s a place for them, just it is not on your lap.

    • JustAnEngineer
    • 10 years ago

    The Nexus 7 does a decent job handling the sorts of simple tasks for which a tablet is suited. It’s also small enough that I can stick it into a jacket pocket.

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