In what must be a painful development for Apple – since it created the modern perception of tablet computing – iOS has been overtaken by Google’s Android OS, which now has 62pc of the global tablet market.
Apple’s iOS is now in second place with 36pc of the market, down from 52pc in 2012. Microsoft, which spawned the earliest phase of tablet computing in 2002, has just 2.1pc of the market, up from 1pc in 2012.
“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,” said Roberta Cozza, research director at Gartner.
“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.”
In 2013, the share of Apple's iOS dropped 16.8 percentage points as the improved quality of smaller low-cost tablets from branded vendors drove market demand, and white-box products continued to grow in emerging markets.
Gartner analysts said emerging markets recorded growth of 145pc in 2013, while mature markets grew 31pc.
“Apple's tablets remain strong in the higher end of the market and, Apple's approach will continue to force vendors to compete with full ecosystem offerings, even in the smaller-screen market as the iPad mini sees a greater share,” added Cozza.
In 2013, Microsoft's tablet volumes improved but share remained small. Despite Microsoft now acting more rapidly to evolve Windows 8.1, its ecosystem still failed to capture major consumers' interest on tablets.
“To compete, Microsoft needs to create a compelling ecosystem proposition for consumers and developers across all mobile devices, as tablets and smartphones become key devices for delivering applications and services to users beyond the PC,” Cozza pointed out.
“Microsoft enjoys better shares in ultramobiles that are more productivity oriented, where its partners are ramping up new form factors and designs,” she added.
Tablet world image via Shutterstock