Apparently, people do want tablets. I've heard every logical negative statement when it comes to buying a tablet, and I made a few myself when the iPad first came out. However, the numbers do not lie. Research firm Strategy Analytics reported that June quarter tablet shipments were at 15.1 million units, representing a 331% increase over the 3.5 million units that were shipped in quarter two of last year, 2010. We touched on this topic during this week's PhoneDog Live, our weekly vodcast. You can check out the full video to listen to all of the topics we discussed. In this recap post, we'll focus on the tablet market numbers.
It's not too terribly surprising that there has been a 331% increase in tablet shipments over the past year considering that the original iPad didn't ship until the beginning of quarter two of 2010 and we didn't see any mainstream Android tablets until the end of last year. However, if you look at it from the vantage point of a skeptic, it is surprising. Tablets don't offer any functionality or features that you can't get with a smartphone, except the convenience of a larger display. Many see tablets as unnecessary accessories. Even I once called the iPad "a toy". So, either a lot of people have changed their mind about tablets or maybe there weren't so many skeptics to begin with.
Another interesting number is market share. Apple, of course, takes the number one spot with a 61% share of the tablet market; however, last year that number was 94%. Android went from having basically no share to now having a 30% share. Again, at the time of last year's report there were no Android tablets on the mainstream consumer market. Still, if you think of the original Samsung Galaxy Tab as the first Android tablet and that it came out in late 2010, roughly nine months ago, and then look at that number again, it's impressive. In half that time, RIM and its QNX-powered tablet, the BlackBerry Playbook, took only a 3% share of the market.
Perhaps those numbers show that people aren't necessarily buying a tablet because they want or need one. Maybe they're buying a tablet just because of the brand or OS the tablet is running. Why else would the numbers between Android and RIM be so skewed when Android only had a 4-month headstart? Personally, I've gone back and forth on buying a tablet. It seems like a fun device to have, but I just can't rationalize spending $500+ on something that doesn't do any more than what my smartphone does.
Here's an interesting thought: With these new numbers, Apple is now the number one tablet maker, smartphone maker, mobile PC vendor, and brand in the world and the number one music retailer in the U.S. Would you call that a monopoly or just a really good marketing strategy? Answer that and then tell me what you think about the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. People are quick to use the word "monopoly" when referring to that proposed merger, but what constitutes a monopoly? Is it being number one in a few key market statistics? AT&T would do that with one market statistic. Apple has done that in five. Food for thought.
If you'd like to watch the next episode of PhoneDog Live, we'll be broadcasting every Friday at 5 p.m. ET from our Ustream channel. You can watch it directly from Ustream or from our Facebook page. This week's show is available to watch on our YouTube channel.