Android vs. Apple: Just Who is Catching Up to Who?

According to recent studies from Strategy Analytics, Tablet and Touchscreen Strategies, and Pew, the worldwide tablet market has shifted dramatically year-over-year from the third quarter of 2011 to now.

Android devices caught up to Apple in the smartphone market last year before blowing them away. They are now just 15% behind Apple in the global tablet operating system marketshare race.

Last year at this time, Apple had a commanding 65% to 29% lead. Apple’s market share has dropped to 57%, while Android’s has risen to 41%.

However, the Pew study put Android tablet market share at 48% in the United States, with the Kindle Fire accounting for 21% of that. There are indications that Android could win this race, too despite, the iPad Mini launch.

Yet Apple affirms that it still owns at least two-thirds of the tablet market and its share has actually grown in 2012.

Android  tablets were shipped to the tune of five million in Q3 2011, but that has doubled to 10 million for Q3 2012. Apple on the other hand shipped 11 million in Q3 2011 and 14 million in Q3 2012. That’s allowed global tablet shipments to increase to 24.7 million for the previous quarter versus 17.3 million in Q3 2011.

The Pew study suggests that nearly a quarter (22%) of Americans have a tablet. 23% of non-owners are planning on getting one in the next six months.

Analysts will have to continue to watch the tablet market now that Microsoft has entered the game with the Surface. They account for 1.6% of the world’s tablet market share and are in third place. If Windows 8 and the Windows Phone are popular, that could mean the Surface will be popular too. Although early reviews do not look promising.

Sadly for Canadians, RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook did not even make the list. Even sadder, “other tablets” comprised of 4% of the market share last year—but now accounts for less than half of a percent of the market.

That goes to show that tablets, much like smartphones, are truly an Android vs. Apple battlefield.