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Microsoft carves out 'niche' in tablets, says numbers chap

Windows 8 battles Apple for second place

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Apple had to watch Android match then exceed its share of the smartphone market and now it’s having to watch Google’s OS do the same thing in the tablet space.

First quarter figures from Strategy Analytics show Android running in 52 per cent of the fondleslabs that shipped during the period. Apple’s iOS was in 41 per cent of them.

Apple can take heart from one fact: if you cut out the no-brand tablets from the Android tally, it’s back on top - just. It took 48.2 per cent of the market in comparison to Android’s 43.4 per cent, SA said this week.

Why not include the white-label tablets? Because only seven million of them shipped during Q1, compared to 40.6 million branded products.

Demand for new tablets continues, so Apple can also console itself with growing unit shipments. That, after all, is what matters. Market share is only important if it falls to such a low level that the prevalence of other brands actually dampens demand for Apple products - what happened in the personal computer market during the late 1980s, in other words.

Then Apple’s chief rival was Microsoft. Might it be again? During Q1 Microsoft’s Windows 8 was in three million tablets that shipped during the period, up from none at all in the year-ago quarter. Windows 8 took 7.5 per cent of the tablet market in the quarter, a much better degree of success than that enjoyed by Windows Phone when it launched. Q1 2013 smartphone OS market share figures aren’t yet out, but WinPho’s Q4 2012 share was around 2.4 per cent, according to Canalys, another market watcher.

The Microsoft figures also exclude notebooks able to be transformed into a tablets, so its share isn’t being inflated by counting other products. Strategy Analytics considers it a “niche” player for the moment. ®

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