If you were to ask someone “which is the best tablet computer?” right now, you would probably get a fiercely partisan answer. Some personal electronics are very personal – mobile phones and tablet computers seem to fall into this camp. There’s an almost tribal vibe going on with these devices.
Whilst it might be a pointless exercise to speculate upon which tablet computer is best, “which tablet computer is the most popular?” is a question that can be addressed a little more dispassionately. Here are the most popular tablet computers based on sales volume – be prepared for one or two surprises.
1. Apple iPad
No big surprises here – Apple still rules the roost with its Apple iPad Air and iPad Mini. Apple’s iPad tag team accounted for 36% of all tablet sales in 2013.
That’s down a little from the 53% of worldwide sales that Amazon enjoyed during 2012, but competition is much fiercer now. Sales of over a third of the market are impressive, whatever way you look at it.
What may be slightly surprising is the fact that the iPad Mini is now selling more than the “full size” iPad. Apple fans seem to be hugely impressed with the Apple Pocket rocket – especially since the introduction of the “Retina” model at the end of 2013.
It’s lightweight, portable and easy to use with one hand – and, whether you agree that it’s the “best” tablet or not, indisputably the most popular tablet computer in the world right now.
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab
Android tablets accounted for 62% of the market during 2013, outselling Apple’s iOS tablets for the first time ever. Whilst iOS sales are basically iPads, the Android share is divided amongst a large number of different suppliers.
In 2013, Samsung were the leaders of the Android pack – by a long way. Samsung’s 2013 market share was an impressive 19.1% (up from 7.4% in 2012). They do appear to be closing the gap on Apple at a rate of knots.
Samsung’s range of tablet computers is huge. They offer a massive range of tablets from 7″ up to 12″. It’s hard to pick out one tablet from the Samsung range – but the most popular at the moment is probably the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7″ model.
Trailing in a rather distant third place, ASUS grabbed 5.6% of the tablet market in 2013, marginally up from their 2012 share of 5.4%.
The best, and probably most popular, ASUS model is the “Google” Nexus 7″, but it has some other noteworthy tablets in its range at the moment. The T100 Transformer Book, for example, has proven to be a big hit with users who want the portability of a tablet with the benefit of a QWERTY keyboard on occasion.
4. Amazon Kindle Fire
There are times when it seems hard to turn on the TV without seeing Amazon’s Kindle Fire range being advertised, so it’s maybe just a little surprising to find Amazon languishing in fourth place. It might also come as a surprise to find that Amazon’s share of the tablet market dropped from 6.6% in 2012 to 4.8% in 2013.
Nevertheless, consumers who use Amazon a lot, and especially those who are Amazon Prime members, find the Fire to be an attractive proposition. The kindle Fire HDX 7″ model is probably the pick of the bunch right now.
With a 3.3% share of the market in 2013 – up from 1.9% in 2012 – Lenovo may be something of a surprise entry in the popularity stakes at number five.
Lenovo manufacture a fair number of tablet computers, but it’s the Lenovo Yoga tablet, paired with a matching optional keyboard more often than not, that is boosting their popularity right now.
6. Other Manufacturers
If your own personal favourite hasn’t made the most popular list, there’s no need to be downcast. At the moment “other manufacturers”, none of which account for more than 3.0% of the market individually, are taking an impressive 31% of all tablet computer sales.
Some of these are cheap imports, but this sector also includes giants such as Microsoft, HP and Dell – some of whom will almost certainly be making sure that they get “their share” in future.
Watch out for a growth in the popularity of Windows tablets in particular over the next 12 months.