Gartner: 2013 Tablet Sales Up 68%, Android Dominates

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Global tablet sales grow by 28% to 195.4 million units in 2013 Gartner reports, with lower-end smaller screen devices driving growth and making Android #1 tablet OS for the first time.

According to the analyst Android 2013 tablet share totals 61.9%, up from 45.8% in 2012. On the other hand Apple sees a decline of 16.8 percentage points with iPad share dropping from 52.8% in 2012 to 36% in 2013.

Garnter 2013 Tablet Sales

Microsoft tablet volumes see improvement (from 1.2m units in 2012 to 4m in 2013) but 2013 share remains small at 2.1%.

"In 2013 tablets became a mainstream phenomenon, with a vast choice of Android-based tablets being within the budget of mainstream consumers while still offering adequate specifications," Gartner says. "As the Android tablet market becomes highly commoditised, in 2014 it will be critical for vendors to focus on device experience and meaningful technology and ecosystem value-— beyond just hardware and cost-— to ensure brand loyalty and improved margins."

Another sales driver is emerging markets, where 2013 growth reaches a record of 145%. Mature markets see signs of saturation, with sales growth reaching 31%.

Gartner says the market is becoming increasingly challenging for branded hardware-driven players-- service- and content-driven players squeeze from one side and lower-cost white-box vendors from the other, while the Apple-Samsung duopoly dominates 55% of the market.

Gartner 2013 Tablet Vendors

Apple continues to dominate the market, with 2013 tablet share reaching 36% thanks to strong Q4 2013 performance. Samsung follows at 19.1% share and 336% 2013 growth as it follows the same sales strategy (oversegmented device portfolio paired with strong marketing and promotions) it uses with smartphones

In 3rd, 4th and 5th place are Asus (5.6% share), Amazon (4.8%) and Lenovo (3.3%). The "Others" category claims the remaining 31% of the market.

Nowadays Gartner counts tablets within a wider "ultramobile" category including hybrids and clamshell devices. Overall 2013 ultramobile sales total 216m units with 68% growth, with tablets accounting for 90% of sales followed by clamshells (8%) and hybrids (2%).

"The hybrid form factor was the fastest growing category in 2013," the analyst remarks. "Hybrid ultramobiles attracted users' attention because the keyboard offers better use of productivity applications and benefits from a tablet form factor."

Asus leads the hybrid category in 2013, with stronger Transformer Book T100 sales.

As for 2013 Gartner predicts an opportunity in hybrid ultramobiles, as customers should start wanting to upgrade devices in order to either deal with owning multiple devices or keep up with the latest computing trends.

Go Gartner Market Share: Ultramobiles Q4 2013 and 2013