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Summary:

Low-priced media tablets sold well in 2011, with an estimated 7.5 million units combined from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. On Thursday, iHS noted that tablets from these two companies accounted for 11 percent of the total market. But it wasn’t the iPad that was hurt.

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Low-priced media tablets showed tremendous sales growth in 2011, with an estimated 7.5 million units combined from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. On Thursday, iHS noted that tablets from these two companies accounted for 11 percent of the total tablet market. This quick market-share grab didn’t hurt Apple iPads sales but instead held back sales of other Android tablets.

With its new iPad 2 debuting in the first half of 2011, Apple sold a total of 40.4 million units last year, accounting for 62 percent of all tablets sold. That’s down from the 87 percent tablet share in 2010, but Android tablet makers aren’t making up much of that difference. With sales of 6.1 million tablets, Samsung could only take 9 percent of the market, while Asus actually lost market share in the final quarter of 2011: sales were down 24 percent from the prior quarter.

Aside from offering a compelling device, Apple’s iPad continues to benefit from its strong ecosystem of apps and media content. Many of the same apps are available to iPhone and iPod touch users, for starters. And today, with the announcement of iOS-like features coming to OS X 10.8 this summer, the ecosystem tie-in is sure to keep iPad sales growing. Debuting a new iPad model, presumably next month, will continue the momentum.

On the other hand, the most successful Android tablets are Android in name only. The Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet have heavily modified user interfaces built upon Android’s smartphone software. Android tablets are still trying to find their way with Android 3.0 and 4.0. So why are the Kindle and Nook tablets beating out traditional Android tablets? For reasons similar to the iPad: stronger ecosystems when it comes to content.

Priced at $199 to $299, the Kindle and Nook don’t likely compete against the iPad when it comes to a purchase decision. Meaning: sales of these aren’t hurting the iPad much, if at all. The same can’t be said of the true Android tablets, which are still struggling to find an audience.

  1. Mattaui Relvani Thursday, February 16, 2012

    Not sure how this is any sort of a surprise. People who are in the market for $500-$700 tablets weren’t looking at the Fire, or any other Android tablets, unless they were also going to buy one along with their iPad. Meanwhile, anyone looking at a cheap tablet would definitely consider one that was backed by a major brand they were familiar with.

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    1. Perfect response to the article. That’s exactly what I was thinking, this should not be a surprise at all.

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    2. Android is the big looser either way because a refurbished iPad is the same price and a much more rewarding purchase than any Kindle Fire: http://tekcrunch.posterous.com/thinking-kindle-fire-consider-this-for-2-minu

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      1. Jasper Janssen Friday, February 17, 2012

        Actually, Refurb iPads start at $399 right now, for an iPad 1 16G WiFi. That’s still two Kindle Fires.

        I’d buy the iPad 3 at $499 when it comes out in a few weeks — not so much would, actually, as will be. My iPad 1 is getting stale.

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  2. Great article! I guess I’m being nit-picky, but since a Kindle/Nook run on Android OS, shouldn’t the title be along the lines of “Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet hurt other android tablets more than iPad”. It’s just, android is actually benefitting from the two. Once again though, it was a nice read, just trying to help out.

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  3. Nook and Kindle are ANDROID. Idiot.

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    1. Yes, they are based on Android (as stated in the post) but they don’t benefit Google in any way: Google services aren’t included on either device by default.

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      1. So? They are Android tablets that have Android features and run Android apps. So Android tablets are hurting iPad because a good number of potential iPad customers may have picked up a less expensive Nook or Fire that covered the basics of what they needed. The beauty of Android’s ecosystem of devices. Declining marketshare is not a positive.

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      2. Interesting, because the word Google isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article. If they had tried to make the argument that Google is hurting more than Apple from Kindle Fire/Nook, they might have had something. As it stands, they’re saying that Android consumers have a variety of choices, some of which are vastly cheaper than the iPad…

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  4. New reports suggest that BlackBerry PlayBook (http://harryminhas.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/blackberry-playbook/) gained more market share in Q4 last year and Apple loses its dominant position. This is mainly due to the price cuts. But with new PlayBook OS 2.0 coming out on Feb 21. It looks exciting for tablet industry. This time PlayBook has native email, contacts & calendar app with loads of new features. Kindle & Nook are great multimedia tablet with good content ecosystem but their sales are mainly based on the low price. iPad 2 will be competing with them when iPad 3 is launched next month.

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  5. I think this fact makes a $199 Google built and sold tablet.

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  6. The headline should be IPad losing its dominance- 87 to 62% in a year? Wow a 25% market share loss!
    And yes, the Android tablets are heavily Modded- *because they can be*. That is how OSS will be improved. The inability to (legally) improve/customize the iPad interface for specific user sets/applications is not something that should be promoted as a positive!

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    1. At least someone saw this. How can anyone say the iPad is not being hurt? Its the biggest loser of them all. Whether its mainstream Android tablets or the offshoots they were both at some point putting an axe to Apples tablet share. First poster was right though. Anyone lookin to spend 500 to 700 on a tablet is just looking for an iPad as a status symbol. Everybody else either just wants a super ereader or knows they can get more bang for the buck as high end Android tablet prices come down. Just had an iPhone user asking if they should get a Thrive or Transformer.

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    2. Actually latest numbers show that iPad now has around 52% marketshare and Kindle Fire is selling right crazy. ASUS Transformer Prime is also selling like cupcakes. This year iPad will lose even more. It will be exactly the same as it was with smartphones. Anyone who thinks it won’t is more hopeful than realistic.

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  7. Shawn Rutherford Friday, February 17, 2012

    People wanting to purchase a “tablet” to play Angry Birds, Netflix, facebook and browse web and news sites… COULD by the ipad but when based on price/performance… the Fire and Nook were notable brands and priced far better than the ipad. Being that they are both Android devices, this article is factually incorrect. Android is the OS and whether it has specific features is a mute point… the OS is the differentiation between one platform vs. the other.

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  8. As expected it would. What ever happened to those stories about the Fire challenging the iPad though? As we can see, it is more of a challenger to other Android tablets than iPad. Reminds me of when Microsoft introduced their Zune player, it proved to be more a challenger to the other mp3 players than iPods.

    With regards to iPad losing market share, I also remember the early days of the iPod going down in market share before it settled at around 70%, domination. A smaller iPad or larger iPod Touch would secure an iPod-like domination for the iPad.

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  9. The kindle fire is an awesome unit if it is used for what its built and that is to support Amazons media, Amazon prime, movies, T.V. shows, magazines, newspapers, books and some social, Facebook. Where the IPad has apps for recording entire albums and business meeting presentations (impossible with nook or fire) and tons of other applications which is supported by a huge app store. I think we really are comparing apples to oranges no pun intended. My wife has a nook which she loves but we don’t use it for anything like we use our IPads for except videos and angry birds. We live in a great time and these units should be considered to have different market shares because they are different technology like typewriters and calculators of old

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