The number of active Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPads is expected to be surpassed by the number of active Android-based tablets this year, according to market research firm ABI Research. Apple has long dominated the worldwide tablet market in total shipment numbers for an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) brand, as well as in the total number of active devices. In other words, Apple sells more tablets than any other vendor and its iPads are used more than any other vendor’s devices. ABI Research noted that the anticipated increase in the installed base of Android tablets will make 2014 a “watershed” year for the tablet market.
According to data from ABI Research, the combined unit shipments for Android-based tablets overtook Apple’s iOS-based iPads for the first time in the second quarter of 2013. However, even as the combined sales from multiple Android tablet vendors pulled ahead of Apple’s iPad sales, the Cupertino-based company still maintained a dominating lead in the number of active devices. Apple CEO Tim Cook highlighted this crucial statistic during the company’s fiscal 2013 third quarter earnings call by citing the iPad’s majority share of tablet-based Web traffic. “[I]f there are lots of other tablets selling I don’t know what they are being used for because that’s a pretty, the basic function is web browser,” observed Cook.
While ABI Research believes that Android will take the installed base lead from Apple this year, the market research firm also pointed out that Apple is still expected to remain the leading OEM brand in 2014. “Looking back over the past three years of the tablet boom, the leading vendor order has remained largely unchanged,” noted ABI Research’s Jeff Orr. “Lenovo is the most obvious standout as it has executed tablet strategy well both in China and abroad.”