When Apple released the iPad in 2010, they opened the door to a new range of ultra-portable products. The iPad was, at the time, the first notable tablet “computer” to gain any mainstream traction, and it gained a lot of it.
By the launch of the iPad 2 in 2011, the iPad accounted for over 80% of all tablet purchases. The scenery for the tablet market has seen a huge shift in the past year, though. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab line-up, or ultra-low-cost Kindle Fire have seduced consumers to opt for Android-based tablets over iPads.
A recent study by Pew Research Center has found that in the past year, Android has moved from a mere 15% of the tablet market, to an impressive 48%. The study also notes that the low-priced tablet offerings accounted for a 7% increase in tablet ownership from 11% in June 2011 to 18% January 2012, with current estimates between inching past 25% of U.S. adults owning or having access to a tablet at home.
The large chunk of Android tablet ownership has taken its toll on Apple’s market-share, bumping the iPad down to 52%. Amazon’s Kindle Fire (the 2011 variant) accounted for an astonishing 21% of tablet ownership, consuming nearly half of all Android-based tablets owned. The desire for the Kindle Fire is without a doubt due to it’s low price-point, which was unheard of before it’s unveiling in 2011. According to the study,
“…about two-thirds of tablet-owning adults, 68%, got their tablet in the last year, including 32% in 2012 alone.”
The study also indicates that the survey took place prior to the release of the Nexus 7 and newest Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD, which will undoubtedly push tablet adoption higher.
With such a strong focus on low-cost tablet options for consumers, it seems that Apple’s best option to remain supreme chancellor over the tablet world is with a low-cost alternative to their current iPad line-up. Speculation is currently that Apple has an affordable “iPad mini” in the works, which may come later this month, if recent reports are to be believed.
The question now is, can Apple remain on top of the tablet mountain? Only time will tell.