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The Tablet Race: The iPad vs. the Rest


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If you’ve ever held and used a tablet computing device such as the Apple iPad, you probably already know the addictive nature of its touch-based interactions. The iPad, when it launched, was and still is a revolutionary device, improving with each generation, getting lighter, thinner and faster — as well as appealing to adults, teens, and even children as young as one year old. As you’ll see, the iPad is not just for games, to-do lists, watching videos or, more recently, shopping. It really is a revolutionary computing device masked in apparently simplicity.

iPad and iPad Air: Facts and Figures

As of Fall 2013, Apple has the iPad Air tablet, borrowing a name from their MacBook Air laptop line. Will it be enough to keep all the Android tablet competitors on their collective feet? The jury is currently out on that, but the facts might surprise you as to how well the iPad has done despite strong competition from tablets running Google’s Android mobile operating system (OS).

  • Android moves ahead. Android tablets are now collectively outselling iPad tablets each quarter. However, as a brand, Apple’s iPad tablets still outsell any single Android tablet maker.
  • iPads used more for the Web. iPads also account for large majority of web traffic from tablets — at least in N. America.

iPad vs The Rest

Wait, what? How is it that iPads generate more web traffic (in N. America) than Android tablets if the latter is outselling them (worldwide)? Let’s look at some details.

  • Apple brand is still strong. Data by IDC for 3Q13 shows that brand-wise, Apple had the most shipments with 14.1M tablets — an increase of only 0.1M units (0.6%) from the previous year (3Q12). Note that shipments figures are not necessarily equivalent to sales figures, but are presumably based on some level of demand rather than pure sales speculation.
  • Samsung leads Android tablets. Samsung is the brand leader for Android tablets, and 2nd to Apple with 9.7M tablets shipped in Q3 2013 — an increase of 5.4M units (123%).
  • Android outships iOS tablets. Overall, Android brands, collectively outshipped iPads with a total of 33.5M units.
  • Full IDC tablet shipment figures table further below.
  • iPad leads in tablet web surfing. Despite Android grabbing over 70% (70.4%) of the tablet market share — an increase from 3Q12’s nearly 60% (59.8%) — Apple iPad tablets still managed to generate 81% of N. American web traffic on tablets (down from 81% in 2Q13.
  • Android barely used for mobile Web? It took Kindle Fire, Galaxy Tab and Nexus tablets together to generate 13.4% of N. American tablet web traffic in 3Q13. (Note: Chitika determined web traffic by sampling “tens of millions of U.S. and Canadian tablet online ad impressions” in their ad network. The time frame was Sep 15-21, 2013.) A 2Q13 report from Monetate showed iPads generating over 90% (90.63%) of the traffic that quarter.
  • Tablet ownership growing. Who leads in the future depends on which mobile operating system has the most cumulative users. Over a third (35%) of Americans 16+ years old own a tablet (Pew Internet Research study, published Sep 18, 2013). This is a slight increase from the 34% indicated in a Jun 10, 2013, Pew report , and will likely have increased over the Dec 2013 holiday season.
  • Don’t forget e-readers. 43% of Americans 16+ years old own either a tablet or e-book reader, as of mid-Oct 2013 — a figure that increased to 50% after the Dec 2013 holiday season.

So how is it that Apple iPads generate significantly more web traffic in N. America than all brands of Android tablet? There are a few possibilities:

  • Cumulative market lead. Apple’s original iPad, which launched in Apr 2010, has the lead amongst modern tablets. The iPad is not the first tablet computer ever — Apple had the Newton, and Atari, Microsoft and others had tablets at least 10-20 years previous. However, all of them had technical problems and did not enjoy widespread use.
  • Realization: science fiction becomes fact. Tablet-like devices were depicted in science fiction TV shows (e.g., 1966, “Star Trek”) and movies (e.g., 1968, “2001: A Space Odyssey”), as well as described in novels (e.g., 1951, “Foundation”). As compact, touch-based devices like iPad go, Apple is recognized as being first to market. This sort of association builds brand loyalty to Apple, whereas Android has fragmented loyalty over multiple tablet brands.
  • Usability advantage and cumulative user base. By the time the first iPad was released, Apple already had a thriving App Store for iPhone / iPod Touch apps. Between being first to market with a touch-based tablet and an App Store with high quality tablet apps, Apple likely has a cumulative user base since 2010 that exceeds Android’s cumulative user base.

How the iPad Air Fared In Its First Quarter

Apple’s Fiscal 2014 Q1 quarter coincides with the calendar Q4 2013 (aka 4Q13). iPad sales data is as follows:

  • 26M iPads sold in the quarter ending Dec 28, 2013
  • Up from the 22.9M sold in the same quarter one year previous.
  • An increase of 3.1M iPads, or 13.5%, over one year.
  • This is nearly double the 14.1M iPads sold in Apple’s Fiscal Q3 2013 (Calendar Q2) — an increase of 11.9M iPads in Fiscal Q3, or 84.4%.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty used IDC’s 3Q13 tablet shipment numbers (shown in the next section) to determine that Apple no longer outsells Android tablets in terms of revenue.

  • Her figures suggest 46.2% in Android revenue share for 3Q13, and 45.6% for iPad.
  • 14.6M iPads sold globally in 2Q13; 30.5M Android-based tablets sold.
  • $6.3B (49.6%) of $12.7B in iPad revenue globally in 2Q13; $6.4B (50.4%) in Android tablet revenue.
  • 17% drop in past year (ending 3Q13) in average selling price of iPad.
  • 17% increase in average selling price for Android.
  • 60% of iPad unit sales were for the iPad Mini, which made up 49% of iPad device revenue.

A single brand (Apple) selling 49.6% of tablet devices compared to all Android competitors collectively selling 50.4% is still a win for Apple.

What about iPad Air-specific sales? Apple does not release details of sales for each iPad model. However, CIRP (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners) published an analysis report that suggested the following iPad model percentage breakdowns for the calendar quarter ending Dec 28, 2013 (Apple’s Fiscal Q1 2014).

  • 5% — iPad 2
  • 13% — iPad with Retina display
  • 41% — iPad Air
  • 25% — iPad Mini
  • 16% — iPad Mini with Retina display

If these percentages are correctly, applied to Apple’s announcement of 26M iPads sold in that quarter, roughly 10.66M of them were iPad Air tablets. Here are the approximate sales in units of all iPads for Apple’s Fiscal Q1 2014 quarter.

  • 1.3M — iPad 2
  • 3.38M — iPad with Retina display
  • 10.66M — iPad Air
  • 6.5M — iPad Mini
  • 4.16M — iPad Mini with Retina display

The iPad vs CompetitorsIDC Q3 2013 Tablet Shipments Table

IDC released their estimates for worldwide shipments of tablet devices for Q3 2013 (Apple’s Fiscal 2013 Q4 ).


  • Figures are in millions of units.
  • These are shipments and not sales figures.
  • Year-over-Year percentages have been recalculated from the figures below, and thus may differ from IDC’s original percentages, which were subject to possible rounding errors.
Vendor 3Q13 Unit Shipments 3Q13 Market Share 3Q12 Unit Shipments 3Q12 Market Share Year-over-Year Shipments Increase
Apple 14.1 29.62% 14 40.2% 0.1
Samsung 9.7 20.38% 4.3 12.4% 5.4
Asus 3.5 7.35% 2.3 6.6% 1.2
Lenovo 2.3 4.83% 0.4 1.1% 1.9
Acer 1.2 2.52% 0.3 0.9% 0.9
Others 16.8 35.29% 13.5 38.8% 3.3
Total 47.6 100.00% 34.8 100% 12.8
Non-Apple 33.5 70.38% 20.8 59.8% 12.7


iPad Air vs Other iPads

While there’s always debate on whether the iPad is better than an Android tablet, there’s probably no arguing that the iPad Air is better than all previous iPads. Here are some figures.

  • 1 pound (469 grams) in weight for the Wi-Fi-only model — 28% lighter than the previous full-sized iPad. For Wi-Fi + Cellular: 1.05 pounds (478 grams).
  • 7.5 mm thickness — 20% thinner than the previous model.
  • 24% reduction in volume from the previous model. This includes thickness reductions in several areas: decreases of 17% glass, 70% touch sensor, 20% retina display, 25% battery, and 23% unibody.
  • 9.75 inch display (diagonal measurement).
  • 2048×1536 pixels in resolution, or over 3.14M pixels — 265 ppi (pixels per inch).
  • Form factor of 9.5in h x 6.6in w x 0.27in d (240mm h x 169.5mm w x 7.5mm d).
  • A7 processing chip and M7 motion coprocessor, which together reduce battery life.
  • The A7 makes the iPad Air “up to 2x faster than the previous generation in both CPU and graphics performance” than the previous model.
  • Up to 10 hours battery life.
  • 1.2MP (megapixel) 720p HD FaceTime camera for video calls.
  • 5MP iSight camera with f/2.4 aperture, 5-element lens. Can take HDR photos.
  • 5MP 1080p HD backside video camera — which is more resolution than the retina screen. Video zoom of 3x.
  • Face detection on both cameras.
  • Dual microphones with background noise suppression, which is useful in video recording.
  • Two antennas for MIMO (Multiple-Input Multiple-Output) for up to 2x wireless performance over the previous model.

Compare these specs to the iPad 2, which is still selling at time of writing:

  • 9.5in h x 7.31 in w x 0.34 in d (241.2mm h x 185.7mm w x 8.8mm d).
  • 1.33 pounds (601 grams) — Wi-Fi-only model.
  • 1.35 pounds (613 grams) — Wi-Fi + Cellular.
  • 1024×768 pixels at 132 ppi — 768,432 pixels, which is 1/4 the resolution of iPad Air.

Apple iPad’s Advantages Over Competitor Tablets

So why does the iPad have an advantage over Android tablets in these types of uses?

  • Apple was first with a tablet device. The iPad has the advantage of being first to market in terms of modern tablet devices, attracting both users and accessory makers before anyone else, building on the Apple brand of quality computing devices.
  • The iPad provides convenience, power, robust use. The iPad is lighter and faster with each generation, so it’s easier to carry around yet durable in the field.
  • Apple was first with custom apps. While Apple’s App Store was not the first “app store” in the generic sense, they’re thought of as at least the first app market for the current era of smartphones, where 3rd party developers can publish apps. Possibly because of this perception of “first to market”, app publishers often develop for iOS first — sometimes even exclusively. Apps can be expensive to develop, and the App Store has proven to be more profitable, on average, for publishers.

The Apple App Store

So while Android tablets might collectively be outselling iPads now each quarter, Apple’s iOS App Store still outsells Android/ Google Play app market, as well as has more tablet-based apps than Android, at the time of writing.

  • According to Apple, over $10B was spent in 2013 on mobile apps (for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad).
  • With Apple’s 30% cut, that’s $3B in gross revenue.
  • $1B of that $10B was spent in Dec 2013 alone.
  • 3B apps were downloaded in Dec.
  • $15B is the cumulative amount Apple has paid out to app developers since the App Store launched on Jul 10, 2008.
  • About 50% of that $15B (~$7.5B) was paid out in 2013 alone
  • Much of the increase in app download volume could be due to the iOS 7 operating system, which introduced over 200 new features.
  • There are now over 1M apps in 24 categories in the Apple App Store, with over 475K of them being for iPad alone, and other “universal” apps that run on both the iPhone/ iPod Touch and iPad.
  • Users in 155 countries can access the App Store.
  • According to AppAnnie, Google Play had more downloads in Calendar Q3 2013, but Apple App Store had about double the revenue.

Is it any wonder that in Forbes Magazine’s 2013 ranking of “The World’s Most Valuable Brands,” that Apple ranked #1, beating Microsoft (#2) and Coca-Cola (#3)?

Innovative iPad Apps, Accessories and Uses

If you browse through’s pages on how people are using iPads, you see uses that go beyond general personal, educational and business use:

  • General film production and music mixing, making it easier to collaborate with director, actors, and production crew.
  • Music performances and DJing on stage — the iPad as musical instrument and performance mixer.
  • Dance choreography tool in Broadway musicals, eliminating the need to carry a “show bible,” which could contain as much as 4,000 sheets of paper.
  • Learning in remote areas, using a solar-powered toolkit that uses the iPad.
  • Managing wineries, automate equipment, take notes;
  • Sports injury assessment, by using the iPad to assess athletes ahead of time in terms of balance, memory and other concussion-related concerns. This information can be saved for comparison with an after-injury assessment.
  • Sports training, using recordings from video analysis apps to show athletes right on the field how they’re moving, etc. This eliminates the need to carry around video equipment, tapes, etc.
  • Navigational aid for off-road endurance races, using satellite maps, showing info about pits stops, driver changes, places to refuel, access roads, and course notes collected from trial runs.
  • Underwater aid for deep ocean research using a special regulated housing, the “iDive,” that allows for the iPad’s many features to still function, including the cameras and Bluetooth connectivity. This replaces the need to carry special waterproof paper and pencils, then having to later transcribe notes. The advantages with the iPad include that it has cameras for snapshots, and a specially-designed app can help organize data collection.
  • Diagnostic device for field technicians such as for wind turbine maintenance, to reduce the amount of manuals and other material and equipment that they would usually have to haul to the top of a turbine.
  • Surgical aid, to interactively display patient data in the operating room.
  • Filmmaking, where camera and monitors are replaced with an iPad. Paired up with a wireless portable hard drive designed for mobile device use, you have the equipment needed to shoot an HD movie for a fraction of the cost of regular digital video cameras and monitors. Savings which can be put into other equipment or editing, enabling indie filmmakers with small budgets.

These are just a sampling of the ways that the iPad, along with custom software, is being used to innovate workflows, to allow people to be more efficient in their careers. When you factor in the smaller yet more powerful, higher resolution iPad Air, you have a device that can fulfill more day-to-day needs than listed above.

Examples of Innovative Accessories: The Padcaster

Browse through the above list of innovative uses and you’ll see a fairly common theme: the iPad is great for organizing visual information, and particularly useful for visual media such as images and video.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the iPad is great for viewing video content — especially since the debut of the iPad with retina screen. But why stop there at viewing? The latest iPad models have two cameras, a reasonable amount of storage space, and an accessories ecosystem.

Josh Apter, a filmmaker, found that he could use the iPad more efficiently in shooting if it had a special housing for gear attachment. Thus was born The Padcaster:

  • Special aluminum bracket for iPads.
  • Allows for attachment of tripod, lights, microphones, and other video gear — even a wide-angle lens.
  • Turns the iPad into a combination of video camera and film monitor, reducing overall production gear cost.
  • Can be used for a variety of video production-related purposes, including cameras for video journalism and live streaming, teleprompters, and slates.
  • Attached to a tripod, it can also be used as a stabilizer for the iPad or a DSLR camera, when shooting stills or video.
  • A similar frame will be available for the iPad Mini, which as of Fall 2013 also has an HD version.

This frame’s existences opens up opportunities for other mounted camera and video production accessories, controlled by Bluetooth and custom apps, or manually with a remote control. For that reason, despite its simplicity of design, this is an innovative iPad accessory that can help revolutionize filmmaking — especially indie filmmaking.

What’s Next for the iPad Air?

What’s in store for the near-future for iPad models? Here’s some grist for the (online rumor) mills.

  • Larger screen. Rumors of 11, 12 and 13 inch “iPad Pro” models have been discussed in the online rumor mills.
  • Ultra HD resolution. The rumors also suggest a 4K (4096 pixels) screen in the larger models — something that, if true, would be inline with the growth in models and decreasing price of 4K digital cameras and high-end movie cameras. If Apple plans to ever release a “smart TV,” a 4K iPad “Pro” screen is a great stepping stone.
  • Simply faster. Larger screen and/or higher resolution needs faster processors.
  • Bye bye laptops. Apple doesn’t always come out a feature first. Sometimes, they work on a feature and make it better than anyone else’s. Which is what they might be doing in terms of having a dual function iPad Pro, which with a detachable keyboard could mean bye bye for their line of MacBook Airs. And possibly bye bye for competitors laptops.
  • More storage, please. Apple has to give consumers one of their biggest wishes: a lot more storage on iPads. They increased storage on the top iPad Air model to 128MB, but that’s not enough to replace current laptops. So the first version of iPad Pro, if it launches, would hopefully have at least 256GB of space, to make it a great candidate for laptop replacement.
  • Higher price. At least for the so called iPad Pro. You didn’t think you’d get all the above goodies for US$399, did you? The Wi-Fi-only, 16GB iPad Air starts at $499, but the top-end Wi-Fi + Cellular, 128GB costs $929 — more than most Windows-based laptops and nearly the starting price of an 11-inch MacBook Air ($999, at time of writing).
  • Larger cost of ownership. If you already have a MacBook laptop, replacing all your software for an iPad Pro hybrid tablet/ laptop is going to be potentially costly. Some software might not even be available.
  • Dual operating system? To keep cost of ownership down, Apple might design the iPad Pro to be dual boot — running either Mac OS or iOS. (The iOS mobile operating system is built around a subset of the Mac OS.)
  • Dashboard Enterprise. Well, maybe an iPad isn’t powerful enough to run a starship like the Enterprise in the TV show “Star Trek,” but would it surprise you if space flight companies started installing iPads into their future rockets, running specially-designed apps? Just a thought.


Information for this article was collected from the following pages and web sites:


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