The figures, from analyst firm Canalys, cover shipments during the April through June period. Shipments aren’t necessarily the same as sales of course, something Microsoft has discovered with its own Surface tablet.
In the same quarter last year, iPads made up 71.2 percent of all shipments. That’s down to 42.7 percent this year, with Android now on 53 percent.
It’s not just a relative change however: the estimated shipments of iPads dropped from 17 million over the three-month period last year to 14.6 million this year. It should be noted that the third generation iPad was released on March 16 last year, a couple of weeks before the quarter in question, which likely drove sales. There wasn’t a corresponding “new release” this time round.
One of the big surprises is that the Android growth was consistent across the board. Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Acer all saw sales near enough triple year-on-year.
Part of the trend was inevitable: Apple popularizing the iPad was always going to lead to new buyers being attracted to tablets, and the company’s refusal to join in price wars stops it from capitalizing. According to Canalys, the trend will likely continue because each generation of new tablets brings less-impressive technical advances, giving less incentive to go for the best specs rather than shop around.
However, it seems much of the Android growth has been the trend towards smaller (and thus even cheaper) models. Canalys notes that 68 percent of the tablets shipped during the quarter had screens below 9 inches.
The firm also makes the important point that Apple is still utterly dominant when it comes to selling apps to tablet users.