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Apple Inc. (AAPL), Google Inc (GOOG): Android Tablets Are Taking Off

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Apple Inc. (AAPL)A few months ago I wrote that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s tablet crown was looking a little dented — now it appears it may be falling apart. The latest numbers from Strategy Analytics show that Android’s made huge gains against Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iOS over the past year, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

In the second quarter of 2012, Apple shipped 17 million iPads, partly due to the successful launch of the iPad Retina. That helped bolster Apple’s iOS tablet market share to 47.2%. But even after the launch of the iPad Mini later that year, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s market share has dropped to 28.3% at the end of this year’s second quarter, with 14.6 million units shipped.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s drop has been Android’s gain. Over the same period, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)‘s tablet OS jumped from 51.4% to a staggering 67%. Strategy Analytics said that Android’s success is due to the success of Samsung, Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) tablets. Overall, branded tablet shipments shot up 47% to 36.2 million units from 24.6 million a year earlier.

According to Q1 2013 data from IDC, Samsung is the No. 1 Android tablet vendor, followed by Asus — which makes Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Nexus tablets — and then Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN). Samsung easily beat the competition, shipping 8.8 million units compared to Asus’ 2.7 million and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s 1.8 million.

Not to be left out of the tablet conversation is Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)‘s Surface tablets, which jumped to 4.5% OS market share this past quarter and 2.3% global shipment market share. Strategy Analytics believes that third-quarter shipments of the Surface could spike because of the recent price drop for Surface RT tablets. If that happens, investors should keep in mind that any significant growth for that quarter would likely be temporary compared to the steady gain of Android tablets.

In the coming months, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to launch updated versions of both the iPad and the iPad Mini, which could help boost market share. Apple is king when it comes to tablets larger than 8 inches, but according to NPD, two-thirds of tablets being sold in the first quarter were smaller than that size. Though Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) still commands a 30%-40% share of smaller tablets, a plethora of small Android tablets compete with the Mini and typically can be had for a much lower cost.

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