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Google's stats show few Android tablets in use

Just don't tell Amazon

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Analysis Android may have topped Apple's iOS in terms of overall global smartphone sales, but if the latest figures from Google are to be believed, it certainly isn't winning many converts among tablet users – that is, if you ignore Amazon's customers, as the Chocolate Factory's numbers do.

From Google's perspective, the number of Android tablets in play is miniscule. According to statistics posted to the Android developer website, typical smartphones made up the vast majority of Android devices in use during the seven-day period ending September 4, with 86 per cent reporting a screen diagonal between 3 and 5 inches.

In contrast, devices with screen diagonals between 4 and 7 inches represented just 6.5 per cent of the Android gear in use during the same period, while devices with typical tablet screen sizes of 7 to 10 inches accounted for a paltry 4.7 per cent.

The versions of the Android OS in use were also telling. Android 3.1 "Honeycomb",the version of the OS that the Chocolate Factory released exclusively for fondleslabs, was found on only 2.1 per cent of all devices.

Not even Google's well-regarded Nexus 7 slab seems to have managed to jumpstart the Android tablet market. The Nexus 7 was one of the first devices to ship with Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" installed, yet that version of the OS was found on just 1.2 per cent of the total.

It's true that some tablets that shipped with Honeycomb installed have since been upgraded to Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich", which is currently running on 20.8 per cent of Android devices. But Ice Cream Sandwich runs on phones, too, and the screen size data suggests that tablets don't account for much of its success.

Mind you, the idea that Android tablets aren't selling particularly well should surprise nobody. According to recent data, Apple's iPad commands as much as 70 per cent of the fondleslab market, and sales show no signs of slowing down.

Meanwhile, Android tablet vendors have been cutting prices in a desperate effort to woo customers away from Apple's walled garden, without much success.

The elephant in the room, however, is Amazon, with its line of Kindle tablets. Although Kindles are based on Android, they run Amazon's homebrewed version, and by default Kindle users buy apps and other content through Amazon's online stores, rather than Mountain View's store, Google Play.

That's important, because Google uses the Google Play store to gather its Android usage statistics. Devices that never connect to the store aren't included in the Chocolate Factory's numbers, which means they don't accurately reflect the number of Kindles that are currently in use.

That should be worrying for Google, which in March relaunched its app store as a one-stop shop for movies, music, books, and other digital content. So far, the tablets that are failing to sell seem to be the ones that use Google Play.

Amazon does not release its Kindle sales figures. But at a press event on Thursday to announce the newest Kindle models, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said that the Kindle Fire now accounts for 22 per cent of all fondleslabs sold in the US.

If that's true, it demonstrates that there very well may be a healthy market for tablets based on Android rather than iOS, but so far it is Amazon, and not Google, that has managed to capitalize on it.  ®

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