Three months can make all the difference, at least if you're drafting estimates at Strategy Analytics. Now that we know 14 million iPads shipped in the third quarter, the analyst group believes that Apple's tablet market share dropped from 68.3 percent in the spring to 56.7 percent in the summer. All of the shift is attributed to Android -- researchers think that shipments of Google-based tablets surged from 7.3 million to 10.2 million, handing the platform 41 percent of an increasingly crowded space. It's the "collective weight" of so many Android-reliant companies leaping into the market rather than any one of them pulling ahead, Strategy Analytics says. We wouldn't be shocked if a few Kindle Fire HD sales played a part.
More than a few wildcards still surround the figures and their long-term impact. First is that these are estimates, not concrete results: companies like Amazon steadfastly refuse to provide shipment numbers and leave most of the final tally beyond Apple to educated guesswork. It's also an understatement to say that the market will change dramatically before 2012 is over. Between Windows 8's launch, possible Nexus 7 upgrades and two new iPads, there are a lot of pieces moving on the chessboard.