We know that the strategy ultimately ensures success in some ways but we’re still surprised with the number of Android tablets in the world. The latest numbers for Q4 of 2011 have arrived and tablets running Google’s mobile operating system has risen to 39%. While the Android tablet market is gaining steam, it’s probably safe to assume that the sharp rise is likely due to the Kindle Fire.
This new data comes to us from Strategy Analytics, which has counted the Kindle Fire into the Android mix. If this data was collected from Google itself, the market share of Android tablets would likely be a bit lower, as it only counts devices that ship with Google applications installed. Nonetheless, the affordable Kindle Fire seems to be a hit, even if it’s not the most powerful option in Android tablet land.
Apple is still the king of the tablet space and holds 58% of the market. This number will continue to grow either way but if the rumors of an iPad 3 being announced next month turn out to be true, the next report from Strategy Analytics will likely look dramatically different.
Fragmentation notwithstanding, the experience between Android tablets and phones varies dramatically. In contrast, the iPhone and iPad act in the same way, which has worked quite well for the company. iOS in general is essentially an app launcher, where Android devices offer up much more customization. That said, the customization that people like on Android phones doesn’t necessarily translate that well with Android tablets. Android tablets almost offer too much space for customization, where you can place all the widgets and applications you’d have across multiple screens on your Android phone on one panel of your tablet. This leads to some pretty barren space left on Android tablets.
The Ice Cream Sandwich update brings a lot of promise to Android tablets but it still lacks something to make the experience great. This something isn’t something the iPad has, either, but the route Apple has gone just works, so there’s little to complain about. The layout of an Android tablet almost has a work-space feel to it, and while it’s getting there, the productivity tools just don’t seem to be where it needs to be. Maybe I’m still just trying to justify a reason to actually own a tablet.
Either way, it’s pretty impressive to see the chunk Android has taken out of Apple’s tablet market share but it remains to be seen for how long.