Google(s goog)’s Android tablets have overtaken Apple’s(s aapl) iPad in at least one statistic: market share. Tablets running Android accounted for 61.9 percent of sales in 2013, research firm Gartner announced on Monday, making this the first year that Android slates outsold iPads. Don’t shed too many tears for Apple though: It sold 70.4 million iPads during the year which is nearly double that of Samsung’s tablet sales.
The overall tablet market has continued to grow as expected: Garter says a total of 195.4 million tablets were bought last year. That’s up from 116.3 million in 2012 and getting closer to total PC sales, which the research firm estimates to be 315.9 million. (Note: The figure represents PC shipments, not sales.) And the figure is only likely to increase largely: Gigaom Research is forecasting tablet shipment growth to top 427 million units by 2017 (subscription required).
Microsoft(s msft) made strides in 2013, more than doubling its tablet sales from the prior year but still only accounted for 2.1 percent of the overall tablet market. A total of 4 million Windows tablets were sold in 2013, indicating that Microsoft’s Surface efforts, as well as tablets from Microsoft’s hardware partners, are still struggling against the two-headed juggernaut of Android and iOS. And while all other tablet makers grew share last year, there was one surprising exception: Amazon(s amzn) lost share even though it boosted sales from 7.7 million to 9.4 million tablets.
I doubt Apple is concerned that Android has finally taken more market share. The company faces the same situation with the smartphone market yet it rakes in billions in profits from its mobile device sales. Outside of Samsung, no other hardware company using Android is earning much in the way of profit.
And even though it has less market share, iOS is still widely considered the “go to” platform when it comes to application development. That means the newest and often best apps come to Apple’s iPad before arriving on Android or Microsoft slates; something that will continue to keep iPads flying off shelves for some time to come.