Apple’s iPad Holds Ground against Advancing Android Hordes

by Jeff Wiener on March 21, 2013

It wasn’t terribly surprising to read that market research firm IDC revised its tablet-market forecast and now predicts that 2013 will serve as the year that Android-based tablets will finally overtake Apple’s iPad for top spot, what is surprising is the realization, given Android’s widespread proliferation, that it took this long.

For several years now Google’s Android operating system has sat atop the global smartphone market, having long usurped this dominant position from rival Apple. But while Samsung has proven itself as a standout Android partner, the reality is, as we’ve stated before, that Google has achieved its global dominance through a quantity-over-quality approach, flooding the market with Android products of all shapes and sizes.

Given this approach, does anyone else find it strange that only now in 2013 is Android slated to overtake its Apple rival in the tablet market, and only by a measly 48.3 to 46 percent ratio? Why can’t Android dominate the tablet market as it has the smartphone sector? Why isn’t its market share significantly higher? As some analysts contend, Android’s struggles come as a result of Google’s mobile strategy; platform proliferation resulting in OS fragmentation, resulting in consumer alienation.

For years now Apple has developed a comprehensive digital existence, creating products that speak to different facets of our technological lifestyle. In fact, Apple products have long been known to develop a halo effect with consumers, their satisfaction with one device leading them back to the store to buy additional Apple products.

But for some strange reason this halo effect is largely absent from the Android ecosystem, meaning those who buy an Android smartphone, for instance, have little or no inclination to purchase other products featuring that OS. But the question is why?

Let’s simplify this for a moment: As we’ve said, Google has created an Android empire based on a strategy of offering its free open source OS to any and all takers. The result of such a tack is that Android has become whatever device makers want it to be, often unrecognizable as the same OS on different devices. It is this fragmentation, some argue, that has stalled Android’s tablet dominance, as tablets are still seen as periphery products, purchased as but one part of a consumer’s complete digital lifestyle.

Truth be told it seems that while Android fragmentation has created world full of Android phones, it has done little to create the same ethos we see emanating from Apple’s product lineup. There exists little motivation to purchase additional Android products because there’s little in the way of continuity, and it our burgeoning ‘connected everything’ lifestyle, multi-platform continuity is really all that matters.

What’s even more interesting is that given IDC’s predictions for the next four years, it seems that Android’s tablet growth will plateau under the 50 percent mark, only able to wrest a few additional percent of the tablet market share away from Apple’s iOS by 2017.

Of course this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any quality Android tablets out there, only that the Android ecosystem has yet to be able to reproduce Apple’s all-encompassing technological ethos, the one that has consumers returning to the store over and over to purchase the next piece in the Apple’s comprehensive product network.

In the end, while Android gaining the top spot among tablet operating systems is certainly an amazing feet, the fact it lags behind in continuity with other Android devices will mean, at least for several more years, that it will lag behind in the only place that really matters to tech companies: profits.

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