Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and tablets running Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform gobbled up 94 percent of the tablet market in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, leaving little room for any other entrants.
According to the research firm, Apple's iPad garnered 66.6 percent of the global tablet market in the third quarter, down from the near-monopoly of 95.5 percent it had in the year-ago period. Android tablets captured 26.9 percent of the market, up from 2.3 percent in the year-ago period, reflecting growth from entrants including HTC, LG, Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) and Samsung as well as smaller players like Acer and Dell. In January, Motorola unveiled its Xoom tablet, the first gadget running Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, which was designed specifically for tablets.
Meanwhile, tablets running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows got 2.4 percent of the market and Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM) QNX-based PlayBook tablet scored just 1.2 percent of the market.
Overall, total tablet shipments skyrocketed 280 percent year-over-year, to 16.7 million in the quarter, up from 4.4 million in the year-ago period. Apple had 11.1 million iPad shipments, Android tablets numbered 4.5 million shipments, Windows tablets got just 400,000 shipments and RIM shipped 200,000 PlayBooks.
"The future release of Windows 8 cannot come quickly enough for Microsoft, so its hardware partners can start competing more effectively in the tablet space," the firm said. "The next-generation PlayBook 2.0 model will need to offer a much improved ecosystem for messaging and consumer apps if it wants to take off."
The new research comes as the tablet market is about to be shaken up by the low-cost Amazon Kindle Fire, which runs a modified version of Android and which Amazon.com will sell for $199 in November (the device has Wi-Fi but no cellular connectivity). Apple continues to dominate the tablet market with its iPad, which supports more than 140,000 apps. However, Android tablets are clearly gaining momentum.
Indeed, Google just introduced Android 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich, which bridges the differences between smartphone versions of the platform and Honeycomb. Andy Rubin, Google's senior vice president for mobile, appeared earlier this week at AllThingsD's Asia:D conference, and said there are currently 6 million tablets on the market running Google's services, but conceded Google has a long way to catch Apple. "Six million is pretty healthy but it is not 30 million," he said. "Obviously, we need to get there." He also said that he does not think there needs to be tablet-specific apps and that Ice Cream Sandwich eliminates the need for that distinction.
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