OS Fragmentation Hindering Non-iPad Tablet Growth

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Android-based tablets have collectively taken a 20 percent market share away from the iPad in the last 12 months, according to a new study from analytics firm ABI Research. Unfortunately for Apple competitors, not one singular device has made much of a dent.

Apple created the tablet in April of 2010 with the launch of its first-generation iPad, and has since seen dozens of other technology companies introduce their own rival device. Companies like Samsung, Motorola, Research in Motion and Toshiba have all taken at least one swing at a tablet computer, and have seen less than spectacular results.

"Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple," Jeff Orr, ABI Research mobile devices group director, noted in a statement.

In fact, many of these competitors have launched tablets with similar functionality at less competitive price points, he added. Apple, on the other hand, improved upon its first attempt by rolling out the more advanced iPad 2 at no additional cost to consumers.

One of the reasons that rivals have failed to realize success in the tablet segment is the fragmentation within their own operating system software – an issue that has held Android back, at least according to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

ABI researchers point out that Android has at least three different software builds being deployed across various tablet devices at any time. The overwhelming number of operating systems has made it difficult for application developers to help bring non-iPad tablets out of the "early adopter" stage.

"De-featured, low-cost media tablets are being introduced by more than 50 vendors in 2011," Orr says. "This will certainly help bolster year-over-year growth for the category, but it also creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years."

Even with a fragmented mobile OS, Android has done just fine in the smartphone space. Research firm comScore found that Android accounted for 40 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in the second quarter of 2011, up from 35 percent in Q1. 

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Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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