ABI: Android tablet shipments poised to overtake Apple's iPad

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While Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad represented 50 percent of all tablets shipped worldwide during the first quarter of 2013, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android is poised to pull ahead of iOS in the months ahead, market intelligence firm ABI Research reports.

"It's inevitable that Android tablets will overtake iOS-powered slates, though we see no single vendor challenging Apple's dominance anytime soon," said ABI Senior Practice Director Jeff Orr. "With media tablets commercially available for more than four years, momentum is shifting toward value and affordability, putting tablets in more of the population's reach."

Crediting an influx of sub-$200 tablets as the catalyst behind Android's growth in both developed and emerging markets, ABI cites China as the biggest variable moving forward: On the one hand, Chinese consumers are passionate about the Apple brand, but smaller, seven-inch Android continue to gain market traction, although most lack Google's signature suite of applications as well as access to the Google Play digital storefront.

The increasing popularity of smaller Android tablets is also impacting the iPad's market trajectory, ABI notes. Apple recorded its second-best ever quarter for total iPad shipments during the first three months of 2013, and ABI estimates that the 7.9-inch iPad mini represented 49 percent of units and 39 percent of total iPad revenues. "Expect iPad minis to become the predominant iPad model after the June quarter," Orr said.

Tablet shipments are expected to grow 58.7 percent year-over-year in 2013 to reach 229.3 million units, up from 144.5 million units a year ago, according to an IDC forecast issued earlier this week. At the current rate of growth, tablet shipments are on pace to eclipse those of portable PCs by the end of 2013 and will surpass both desktop and portable PC shipments by 2015.

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