If Apple’s iPad Has A 50-percent Market Share, What Do Other Tablet Owners Do With Their Tablets?

IDC’s latest press release regarding worldwide tablet shipments is a telling document which doesn’t tell me as much as I want to know.

Except for Apple, IDC doesn’t list tablet sales. It lists shipments. Those shipment numbers are unofficial, because only Apple reveals how many tablets have been shipped, uh, rather, sold vs. shipped. And, except for Apple’s iPad sales, which are publicly available, all other tablet shipments are estimates, not actual sales numbers.

As you would expect, Apple came out on top in the past quarter with just under a 45-percent market share while Samsung, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others fight for second place. Google and Microsoft tablets don’t warrant much more than side-by-side lumps in the Others category.

Here’s what disturbs me about such data. It’s not factual. It’s a guess, an estimate. Apple may have about 50-percent of the total tablet installed base, yes, but that means for every iPad you see in the wild, you’ll also see a competing tablet, right?

That’s not the case.

Apple’s iPad competitors are almost nowhere to be seen. If they make up half the market, where are they?

My view is simple. They’re gathering dust while their owners lick the wounds of an irritating purchase, while salivating over their friend’s iPads.

Usability is a bitch, and all the numbers, actual numbers, not estimates, say the same thing. iPhone and iPad users actually use their devices far more than competing products. Smart phone competitors to the iPhone use the phone, presumably, but don’t seem to browse much, don’t use third party apps much, don’t spend much money on apps, and often can’t wait until their cell phone contract ends so they can buy an iPhone.

The iPad usage is similar. Users use the web, use email, download apps and games in horrific numbers, especially when compared to brands from Samsung, Amazon, et al.

I think it’s a fair question to ask. What do all those non-iPad tablet owners actually do with their tablets?

The answer is simple. Not much.


  1. Perhaps they stay at home where they are used.

    Two of my co-workers have Xooms, which are used mostly to watch video. It’s an extra TV set or web browser in the house and is used on trips. But the Xooms don’t get out much.

    My sister and her husband have Nooks, which they use at home and on trips to read books.

    My roomate’s iPad sometimes goes to work with her–it’s a handy way to show off photos. But since it’s WiFi, it’s kind of useless on the bus.

    As an aside, you know where I see most iPads now-a-days? Cash registers and Kiosks. I think that’s funny because Mac users used to love to point out that, yeah, there are more Windows PCs than Macs being sold, but how many of those are just used as cash registers or shipping terminals?

    So how many of those iPad sales are going to real people and how many of them are being used as flight manuals on airplanes?

    Kate’s Note: Apple sold 22-million iPads last quarter. That’s 1.69-million per week, and over 241,000 per day, or about 10,000 per hour. If all the airplanes in the country were equipped with iPads then Apple might sell an extra couple of hours worth.

  2. The sad truth is that most of these second rate tablets just don’t get used much. All the web statistics indicate that iPads are used three to four times that of all competing tablets, including Android.

    Amazon and Google hope that by selling cheap tablets they will make profit on the content sales– music, movies, TV shows. There’s no evidence that works for them, but there is evidence it works very well for Apple.

    Lots of buyer’s remorse among the non-iPad crowd.

  3. I figure they are in a warehouse somewhere. Shipped doesn’t equal sold.