Fred Wilson has an interesting post on the A VC blog this morning, referencing a Forbes article that suggests that Apple's market share of the tablet market has dropped from 81% a year ago to 52% today, with Android grabbing the other 48%.
The Forbes article notes that most of the Android gains are due to the Kindle Fire:
Amazon’s Kindle Fire accounts for far and away the largest slice of those: half of the Android tablets in use are Kindle Fires, and they represent 21% of the overall tablet market.
Those numbers sound a bit suspect to me, and apparently to many readers of Fred's blog. And they are hard to verify, as Amazon does not release sales figures for the Kindle Fire. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, iPad global market share actually increased during Q2, 2012 from 62% to 68.3%, shipping 17 million iPads during the quarter.
Yet, there's no escaping the fact that Android traffic is increasing, particularly on a global basis. Apple's iOS accounts for roughly 50% of mobile web traffic in the US, according to StatCounter, as compared to 41% for Android. The two were dead-even at 40% a year ago, but virtually all the Blackberry and Symbian market share have been absorbed by Apple.
On a global basis, the picture looks substantially different. Symbian's losses have been split among several operating systems, with Nokia's Series 40 gaining 15%. But it remains largely a 2-horse race between iOS and Android. Yet in the global market, Android, which had been tied with iOS for market share in May, has now taken a sizable lead with nearly 30% of the market. Of course, these figures are for all global traffic, both smartphone and tablet.
I think it's likely that Android will begin to take more market share from iOS among tablet users in the coming 12-24 months. Ironically, the launch of a 7" iPad Mini, rumored for later this month, could actually help the Android market as well. An iPad Mini could "legitimize" that size, form factor and price point ($199-299) for tablets, making them accessible to a wider audience. And while many will certainly choose the Apple product, that new awareness should also drive sales of the Kindle Fire, the Google Nexus and other Android-based tablets.
But the key, of course, is understanding the markets you serve and what products they are using. In the B2B world, there's really only one player today. Comparing notes with others, tablet market share among knowledge professionals seems to be 90% Apple today. That, too, may change, but I'd encourage B2B publishers to focus their efforts on making great iPad apps, and not worry about Android until you start to see demand from your customer base.