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November 5th 2012 12:11 pm

Which tablet will dominate sales this holiday season?

This holiday season is shaping up to be an epic battle for tablet manufacturers, with Apple's 4th-gen iPad and iPad mini competing against the Asus Nexus 7 and Samsung Nexus 10, Amazon's Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble's Nook HD, and Microsoft's Surface RT, among others. With so many options, including some good tablets for under $200, will Apple be able to retain its market supremacy -- and if you're in the market for a tablet right now, which one are you considering?

Some recently released numbers could shed some light on where the tablet market is going. Apple announced today that it sold 3 million iPads from last Friday -- when the iPad mini and 4th-gen iPad hit stores -- through Sunday (www.apple.com­/pr­/library­/2012­/11­/05Apple­-Sells­-Thr...). That's more tablets than Amazon or Asus shipped in the entire 3rd quarter, a period that included the launch of the Fire HD and Nexus 7 (https:­/­/www.idc.com­/getdoc.jsp­?containerId­=prUS237...). While Apple's market share fell during the period -- it now owns 50% of the tablet market compared with 65% in the previous quarter -- analysts think a lot of would-be iPad buyers waited the quarter out in anticipation of the iPad mini, which may help explain those huge three-day sales figures. The big winner during the 3rd quarter, in relative terms, was Samsung, which saw its market share jump to 18% from 6.5% the previous quarter. And Android tablets increased their market share overall, since the drop in iPad share brought Android models up to about 50% of the market.

What will happen next? I think Apple will likely continue to be the market leader; a lot of people are going to get iPad minis during the holidays, and people will be buying them because they're cheaper, more compact iPads, without comparing them to Android models. I also think the Nexus 7 will sell well, and may be very attractive to parents who are comfortable with Android smartphones and are tired of sharing them with their kids. Lower-priced Fire HD and Nook HD models will be decent sellers, though the higher priced models will be a stretch, since they'll be competing more directly against the iPad mini.

Where does this leave the Surface RT? At first, I thought it would steal market share from Android. But I now think it'll compete more directly with similarly priced Windows 8 laptops. Some business users and students who are looking for a computer that they'll mainly use for Microsoft Office may be willing to take a chance on Windows RT's limited app ecosystem in order to get something light and stylish, with better battery life than a standard laptop.

What do you think?

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10 replies

I can't help but think Apple will continue to succeed in the tablet market. Despite the lower specs the iPad Mini is providing cost conscience people with the ability to get into the Apple ecosystem at a lower cost. Despite what pundits and enthusiasts think, the average consumer doesn't care about specs and benchmarks. Consumers will see the word 'iPad' and the price of $329 ($70 cheaper than the iPad 2) and get excited they can own an Apple device at a cost friendly price. This was very similar to what happened with the iPod nano and the Touch when they came out.

While the Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 do offer more for the dollar one area where Google will continue to lose out is with it's brand recognition and store placement. Right now it is very limited on where you can walk in and try out a Nexus 7. I've noticed in some brick-and-mortar stores even if they have Android devices they wont be on but walk over to the Apple display and they're fully functional. I don't think Google needs to go the route of Microsoft and Apple with opening a store but I think they need to become more aware of how their product is being shown off.

I think this holiday season will be a lot like last season. Apple will come out on top with Amazon behind them. After that it will be Android devices and nook devices mixed together but I think this year you may see some Surface and Windows 8/RT devices creep into Android's share.
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The way I see it, people will try out Android tablets, but won't like them too much. All the customizing and widgets and stuff is a lot more appealing on a phone than a tablet IMO. Also, there are so few tablet optimized apps for Android, making the tabs pretty useless. As for games, my main purpose for having a tablet, Android tablets are almost entirely useless compared to the oh so game-fill App Store for the iPad.

Android tablets, however, will probably be a lot more successful with people who just want a tablet for consuming media, such as people using it to watch videos, surf the web and read ebooks. Having the much lower price tag and being anywhere ranging from decent enough to really good at the fields above, it has the potential to easily outsell the iPad for these kind of customers.

As for Windows 8, I see that as still more of a PC competitor, rather than a tablet competitor. Windows RT is currently useless, but it will get better in the next year or 2. People may eventually warm up to it, but I don't see a big boom with it until a year or so from now as the Windows Store fills up a lot more and developers learn to make decent apps with the not-Metro UI.
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Met , you are absolutely correct. I have had an iPhone 4, and an iPhone 5 and I have been mightily impressed with both. Though the cost of an iPad was a reach too far. Though having bought an Amazon Kindle Fire HD, i now realise I could have spent the money better on magazines, DVD's or a nintendo game boy. The thing is hooked to Amazon and has the worst GUI of any tablet I have ever tried, I tried a lot in the shops. My advice, just buy a free tablet, not one that is linked to some tired Book organisation, with no idea about computing.
That having been said, the Kindle does make an attractive paperweight.

Me I'll be selling this Kindle to someone who has the patience or customer loyalty to make it work, and I'll be saving up for a grown up computing device.
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Here's my prediction for sales rankings in tablets:
iPad 4
Kindle Fire HD (all models combined)
iPad mini
Google Nexus 7
iPad 2

iOS is the best and will continue to dominate. Kindle Fire is for people who don't want to spend the money for an iOS tablet and the Google Nexus 7 is for people who enjoy Android OS.
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I think the mini will top the unit sales. It's got heavy demand and the backlog is 2 weeks compared to iPad 4 in stock. I think the kindle and the nexus will sell a lot too. All three, the kindle, nexus 7, and mini are in a good price point for holiday gifts.
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I agree to an extent, but I think the Kindle fire has more going for it than just price. No tablet has the eco system to match the fire and Apples icloud is just a tacked on also ran when compared to Amazon's cloud storage and what Amazon's cloud doesn't give you can be had with a free Dropbox account.
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iPads will dominate because they currently have the mind share. I wouldn't be surprised if Amazon doesn't smack at Apples heels with the Fire line of tablets however, since for kids sometimes cheap and good enough beats out best.
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This is the last year Apple dominates tablet sales. This time next year, the landscape will be totally different.
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i think that it will be different but only because windows 8 will have more apps behind it and after a year of Windows 8 i think we will see it starting to come into itself.

But i also think Apple and the iPad will be fine i don't see them being the monster they are now in the tablet space but i do see them being the same in the tablet space as they are in the PC space meaning they will be more of the high-end devices.

on the Android front i think they will be just like they are on the phones. for the most part the "common" OS on a lot of devices. I don't mean that as a bad at all. They will be in tablets like they are on the phones today i think we will see a lot more android tablets of a wide range of prices and capabilities like we do with phones.

Now we have an idea of where Microsoft is going. all in with windows 8.We know google is going strong with Android and Chrome OS. we know or at least have a good idea where Apple is going with iOS but what about OS X? what are they planning on doing there will we finaly see some touch enabled mac book airs?
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OS X seems to be on a path to eventually merge with iOS, which I would really hate for them to do.
However, Steve Jobs was strong against multitouch on OS X. They did a lot of experimenting on it since they really loved multitouch in general. After a lot of tests, they came to the conclusion that it's too tiring to use multitouch on a laptop and significantly worse on a desktop. They decided they don't want multitouch on OS X and decided to develop the multitouch trackpads and Magic Mouse instead.
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