Coming off its record high quarter, Apple still dominates the global tablet market, with a 58% share in Q4 2011. However, Android is eating away at Apple’s number, and Android tablets now account for 39% of the tablet market, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
In Q4 2010, the same firm claimed Apple owned 68% of the market, and Android just 29%, but at that point, the only major Android tablet on the market was the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Google had yet to unveil its Android Honeycomb tablet operating system.
Also contributing to Android’s gain is the Amazon Kindle Fire, which Strategy Analytics counts as an Android tablet despite the fact it runs a heavily tweaked version of the open source OS that does not resemble traditional or full Android.
In total, manufacturers shipped 26.8 million tablets in Q4 2011, up from 10.7 million the previous year. That number reflects tablets in the retail channel, including units on store shelves and in warehouses, and not actual devices sold.
Globally, 66.9 million tablets shipped in 2011, up from 18.6 million in 2010. According to Strategy Analytics, consumers are choosing tablets over netbooks and entry-level notebooks and desktops.
Microsoft only controls 1.5% of the tablet market with its Windows 7 tablet PCs, and “others” account for the remaining 1.9%. That includes the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook and TouchPad webOS tablet, which HP has discontinued.