Led by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad and machines based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system, the tablet market took off in Q2 2011, according to research firm IDC. Worldwide shipments of tablets totaled 13.6 million units in Q2 2011, soaring 89 percent over the previous quarter.
The popular iPad 2 accounted for 9.3 million units shipped, representing 68 percent of the global tablet market in Q2.
Market share for Android tablets, including those based on the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" build and the tablet-tailored "Honeycomb" OS, dipped from 35 percent in Q1 2011 to 26.8 percent in Q2. Research in Motion's (NYSE:RIM) BlackBerry PlayBook gobbled that chunk of market share from Android. IDC said the PlayBook, which reportedly sold more than 500,000 units soon after launch in April, nabbed 5 percent of the tablet market. "Apple's strength and RIM's entrance meant bad news for Android-based media tablets," IDC said.
HP decided it didn't want to compete with the iPad, Android and other players who have head starts, and so its remaining end-of-life TouchPads are being sold at bargain-basement discounts of $100. IDC predicts that HP will sell a million TouchPads by year's end, and the vendor's fire sale will help its webOS claim 4.7 percent market share in Q3 before the platform share vanishes completely in 2012.
Things will get worse before they get better for Android tablets. IDC said the platform will continue hemorrhaging market share, slipping to 23 percent in Q3 before seeing an upturn to 26 percent in Q4. IDC suggested the proliferation of "price-competitive Android products" in the market will contribute to Android's share gains. Today, most Android tablets cost between $400 and $700, and none of have been able to suitably challenge the $500 iPad on price, functionality and form factor.
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is expected to launch its Kindle Tablet, which could cost $300 or less. Such products would certainly lure some holiday shoppers Apple's iPad might otherwise claim.
For more, read the eWeek article iPad, PlayBook Squeezed Android Tablets: IDC.