Apple iPad Mini VS iPad Back

A new report from ABI Research that suggests Apple’s tablet market share fell 14% during the third quarter of this year to an all-time market share low of 55%. Is that bad news for Apple? Are its Android competitors finally catching up?

Based on the figures alone, the simple answer is yes. Apple clearly doesn’t have as firm a grip as it used to have, especially now that Amazon, Samsung, ASUS (with Google) and others are introducing low-priced Android tablets, several of which fall under the $199 mark. That’s cheaper than any tablet Apple offers, the cheapest of course being the $329 16GB iPad mini.

But we can’t get ahead of ourselves and automatically assume that Apple is in trouble. We need to remember that Apple, with its 55% share of the market, is a single company. It’s also selling record numbers of iPads, which just means that there are more Android tablets being sold, too. Android makers have a 44% market share, but that’s combined. That means Samsung, ASUS, Amazon and every other Android tablet maker each have a small slice of that 44%. No one single company is catching up to Apple in the tablet market, it’s a concerted effort.

Yes, Android is more of a threat than ever. It’s also possible that Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets will begin to eat away at its market share in the coming years. But Apple isn’t in the danger zone. Not yet. Not until its market share begins to fall below that of any of its Android competitors, I’d wager.

Sure, it needs to continue to compete, and I have no doubt that it will. You’d be crazy to think that Apple won’t introduce an iPad mini with a Retina display and a faster processor next year, for example, and that’s in addition to whatever iOS 7 and its new, larger iPad devices bring to the table. Android makers will have to continue to answer to everything Apple brings to the table. (I have no doubt that they will).

Better yet, Apple’s ecosystem is much more robust than any other out there. Consumers know that, and they gravitate towards Apple’s products for that very reason. They may have owned an iPod touch or an iPhone in the past, so they can simply pick up and iPad and know exactly how to use it, where to find apps, how to install music and more. The typical consumer may not know that much about Android or Windows 8 yet.

So, even though Apple’s tablet market share may be falling off a bit, I think it’s just the natural gravitation of the market down to a median. This had to happen – competition is good for consumers, and it keeps both Apple and Android makers developing the most creative, innovative products yet.

After all, it’s our wallets that tablet makers need to win. Yes, the iPad will survive.