What next for iPad?

ComScore suggests that there are 100 million tablet owners in the US. On a per capita basis that implies penetration of about 30%. As a percent of mobile phone subscribers (above age of 13) that implies 40%. As a percent of smartphone users that implies 43%. As a percent of iPhone users that represents 47%. As a percent of households assuming one device per household that implies 85% penetration. By another measure (Pew) household penetration is around 50%.

Regardless of the difficulty in defining what is the correct “addressable market”, the more important question is whether tablets will be an ubiquitous object. Perhaps what we are seeing in the US is something similar to the MP3 player market or video game console markets where penetration saturated at around 50%. Perhaps tablets will reach PC levels which are closer to 80% of population or perhaps they will reach phone levels which are above 90%. The reason we can’t answer the question of ubiquity easily is because competing solutions can carve the usage out of a category “disrupting” it with alternatives.

The idea that jobs are the segments into which products fit and not demographics or product attributes is key to understanding this migration. The reason phones have subsumed more jobs onto themselves is because they have a rapid rate of evolution and because they have larger scale of economy and because they are conformable to our life spaces. As phones get better they take on more jobs and some of those jobs are those of tablets. The MP3 did not become ubiquitous because the phone took its job. Same for the video game and same perhaps for the PC and tablet.

But tablets are also getting better. At WWDC we saw how the iPad got a lot better for in terms of multi-tasking, data entry and edits. With the addition of more screen space it will get better still. The improvements will mean that it will possibly be hired for jobs that PCs are still uniquely good at.

If so then the tablets can continue disrupting PCs from below. As the graph below shows, iPads have captured a great deal of the growth of the overall “computing” market as defined by the PC.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 2.41.00 PM

However even that growth has stalled. The combined PC+Mac+iPad market is declining suggesting that “computing” is inexorably being absorbed by the mobile phone.

Apple management remains bullish on the future of the iPad as a PC disruption. That is certainly possible to continue, especially as PC usage in enterprises needs to migrate in order to take advantage of mobile productivity. But before we see progress we need to see the iPad get better in meaningful ways.

The dimension of input and interaction seems to be about to get an upgrade. This is just what the product needs.

  • Christian Peel

    Apparently Android tablets are such a dead end that they aren’t even worthy of mention 🙂

    If one looks forward with one’s disruption-theory hat on, it seems that both tablets and the PC are destined to be legacy platforms with sustaining improvements. I’m very glad that Apple is continuing to work on them and I even think they can grow both and make money even as they focus on the phone or products such as the watch.

  • Luis Alejandro Masanti

    Maybe it is a crazy idea, but what if we split the ‘job-to-be-done’ of laptops and iPads by the use.
    I think that the iPad surpass by much the laptop in the ‘me and other’ job. (I just invented that category.)
    The ‘me and other’ category is when same sales representative has to show/explain/etc. some material to the customer.
    Of course, he/she can use his/her laptop. But the iPad is more useful.
    Becoming more powerful, the iPad ‘could’ —in this case— possible replace the laptop. But, in other cases, it won’t or just be a companion to the laptop.

    (Disclaimer: I admit that this idea came from the AirShow’s idea.)

  • Walt French

    Probably the single best thing Apple could do to upgrade the iPad’s productivity would be to arrange for no-sweat (no-nasty-billing-surprises) always-on and high-speed connectivity via a simultaneous/tethered/independent/whatever-it-takes data plan. Ubiquitous connectedness.

    Our iPad is wonderful around the house. One would be good inside those Enterprise shops which have wifi throughout-, not just on-premises. (My impression is those are rather scarce.) They start falling down pretty quickly when field reports don’t get immediately updated from a taxi, or when they have to be pre-loaded for a salesperson visiting a prospect’s desk.

    The capability is obviously there, but just as with the first iPhones, there’s a perception problem about the cost/benefit, while unlike the first iPhones, Apple has done little to address the challenge.

    Ironic that as part of the mobile tsunami, the iPad isn’t mobile enough.

    • rationalchrist

      Apple tried that with month by month mobile data plan. Later AT&T discontinued. Maybe a career independent SIM?

  • Ray

    Any reason to include the #2 and #3 tablet OSs in your graph but not the #1?
    It seems an incomplete and misleading graph when discussing how the tablet is/is not disrupting the PC market.

    • Walt French

      Curious what are the top 5 productivity (“computing”) apps on Android tablets, and commensurable they are vis-à-vis the PC.

      Maybe they’re there, happening, and Samsung is thrilled that Apple is unaware of them. But I suspect that Cupertino has proprietary competitive info well beyond what is in the public domain, and know quite well the extent of the competitive pressure from Android tablets of all flavors. With that info, Apple has chosen to prioritize features of interest to the from-PC-to-mobile crowd, much more than worrying about what share they’ll get of all those who shift from desktops.

      If there’s anything missing, I’d think Chromebooks could go in. Unlike Android tablets priced for throwaway or kids’ use, they’re obviously aimed at Computing jobs. But they’d be just a tiny slice of the chart.

      • Ray

        It’s not about liking / disliking / being thrilled ,etc. It’s about being a
        serious industry analyst, or just being a biased analyst. It’s about missed opportunities to look at the data and draw the right conclusions, whether they fit with your personal taste/convictions/theories or not.

        For instance, this assertion:
        “The combined PC+Mac+iPad market is declining suggesting that “computing” is inexorably being absorbed by the mobile phone.”

        It’s invalid, not because is true or not true, but because the data is wrong. Horace has forgotten (really?) to take into account the #1 Tablet OS. No serious industry analysis, management consultant or investment banking firm could produce this chart and then draw that conclusion. At the very least, you need to demonstrate with data that the #1 tablet OS is not being used at all for PC jobs-to-be-done or whatever framework du jour you are using. If you take into account Android tablets, it turns out that PC+tablets (any OS) might actually have grown over the last few years, not shrank. So it doesn’t support his thesis.

        Yes probably most Android tablets are being used for consumer use; just like most iPads probably are. So either you count all tablets or you don’t. Or at least have data that supports that you’re removing 100% of X type, but counting 100% of the Y type.

        “Android tablets priced for throwaway or kids’ use” – There are those, and there are also $900+ Android enterprise tablets:

        Ignoring that many Android OEMs like Samsung have had already for a few years a full portfolio of Android enterprise-ready tablets is clearly misleading.

        Ignoring those, or the tablets and software from dozens of Google’s partners (HP, Sony, Lenovo, SAP, Salesforce, Citrix, etc.) does not make any sense as a serious analyst.

        And obviously, both Apple and Samsung have smart marketers that know that there is an enterprise market for tablets, replacing PCs for certain use cases.

        “Apple has chosen to prioritize features of interest to the from-PC-to-mobile crowd”
        Samsung (and others) has had in the market enterprise features (Office, split screen, stylus, etc.) already for a few years. So I don’t see any evidence of your statement.

      • Ray

        Yes, Chromebooks are missing too, they are the fastest growing segment in PCs, but still a very small one, last estimates I read where in the order of ~1% of the notebook market (less than 10M units probably), so not very relevant yet.

        Android tablets on the other hand sold very well last year (two third of tablets sold were Android, around 150M units). Leaving out two thirds of the tablet market when discussing how tablets are/are not cannibalizing PCs is a profoundly flawed analysis.

      • As you know, my categorization of markets is on the basis of jobs-to-be-done rather than operating systems or form factors or components (i.e. product attributes) or consumer attributes. Ideally I’d like to include all products that are hired for the Computing job to be done. I use iPad as a proxy only because there is no data which separates all tablets into those which are used for the jobs PC are hired to do and those which are used for jobs PCs are not hired to do. The iPad is imperfect as many are also used for non PC jobs but the usage data we have shows there is a stronger correlation between iPad as a whole vs. Android as a whole and PC-like utilization. Certainly many smartphones are also used for PC jobs but I exclude them as well, for the same reason: not enough precision to make the distinction.
        Bottom line, I believe the iPad is a good enough proxy for non-PC computing and its decline is likely a (leading) indicator for the category of non-phone screen based alternatives to PC. What would contradict the conclusion would be data which shows PC substitution via Android devices to cause the entire computing market to expand (without smartphones.)

    • Space Gorilla

      I would guess it’s because there isn’t much meaningful usage re: PC disruption happening with Android tablets. Sure there’s a ton of cheap Android tablets, but if they aren’t taking over PC jobs-to-be-done are they relevant to the discussion? And Android doesn’t seem to be relevant re: enterprise use either.

      • Ray

        Android tablets “aren’t taking over PC jobs-to-be-done”
        Any data to backup this assertion?

        The fact that Android OEMs like Samsung have had for a few years a full line-up of Android tablets for enterprise use seems to indicate otherwise:

      • Space Gorilla

        There is some data yes, to mention one, Good Technology tracks enterprise use and has iPad at 90 percent share of enterprise use. Android smartphones are making some gains in enterprise, but Android tablets are just not making a dent in enterprise. Do with that truth what you will. I don’t create reality, I just live here.

      • Ray

        The PC market is not just enterprise. Disrupting the PC market means not just disrupting the enterprise PC segment. PCs are used also as productivity devices by consumers. In fact tablets are probably disrupting the consumer PC market in a higher degree than the enterprise PC market.

        So excluding two thirds of tablets from any analysis that pretends to derive meaningful conclusions about the tablet market is not justified.

      • Space Gorilla

        You’re assuming the bulk of Android tablets are being used in ways that take over PC jobs-to-be-done. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. There are high end Android tablets, certainly, but they don’t seem to be selling very much.

      • Ray

        I’m not assuming all of them, but surely some of them. It seems a very reasonable assumption.

        Counting all iPad Mini (7.9”) tablets and ignoring all Samsung Galaxy Note Pro (12.2”) tablets for instance as potentially cannibalizing some PC tasks is not a reasonable assumption. That’s what Horace is missing in his data.

        Over 150M Android tablets were sold last year, assuming only half can do some PC tasks, that’s still the same volume as the total iPad sales including iPad Mini (~80M). Very significant, and that amount changes the observation that the PC+tablet market has shrunk.

      • Space Gorilla

        “Over 150M Android tablets were sold last year, assuming only half can do some PC tasks”

        I don’t think we can assume this. It’s not just about whether a certain task is possible or not on a given device, it’s whether or not said device is actually being used for X or Y task. I doubt very much that Horace simply forgot to include Android tablets, or that he is excluding them on purpose to perpetrate a fraud. I think it is much more reasonable that the ‘PC usage’ of Android tablets is more along the lines of Chromebooks. Certainly there is some of that happening but it isn’t large enough to move the needle so it isn’t relevant to the discussion. You’re free to disagree of course.

      • Ray

        Maybe, I don’t know if that’s the case. Good point about the actual usage (not just potential).

        I don’t disagree, I just don’t know what percentage of Android tablets are being used as partial PC replacements. Because there are many OEMs offering high-end Android tablets, many of them clearly targeted to business use, once would think there is a current market for that.

        I think if he has discounted Android tablets from the PC+tablet market, at least he should comment on it and show some data that supports that decision.

      • This is a partial reason. The other part is that there is no meaningful data on the count of Android tablets sold which might be used for tasks which approximate those PCs are hired to do. I did track Android tablet data but it became unreliable as many sources simply counted the production of screens rather than the usage of devices. Then the usage data (browsing, video watching, shopping) diverged dramatically from the sales data and I gave up. Incidentally, the only OEM which publishes tablet sales data is Apple. Microsoft’s numbers must also be estimated and could be off by over 100%.

    • obarthelemy

      I think there’s sophistry going on: Android tablets are “best” (cheaper, less finicky) for low-end jobs, hence Android tablets are *only* for low-end jobs, or even Android tablets *can only do* low-end jobs.
      I’ve asked repeatedly for what iPads can do that Androids can’t, never got an answer (except music creation, which is very niche). Looking around me, people with iPads and people with Androids do the exact same things once you equalize for demographics (teens and professionals do more on their tablets than seniors, and they do lean iPad for peer-pressure reasons, but again not for functionality reasons).
      Maybe when the 2016 iPad finishes aping the Galaxy Note line (multitasking, pen, 12″), a few i-nalysts will finally click ?

      • GlennC777

        Android devices have clearly become competent. The things they just can’t do, these days, are generally ecosystem related, but often very important. A few:

        – Provide rich tablet-optimized apps, usually first, from virtually every major developer.
        – Guarantee the privacy of my data, and respect my intentions with regard to sharing of data.
        – Provide first-rate security (especially later in life-cycle. See…)
        – Be updated to latest OS for several years with anybody-can-do-it ease.
        – Provide phone and in-person tech support for any question I have. Lifetime support in physical stores all over the world.
        – Provide low cost of ownership thanks to high retained value.

        There are lots and lots of other things that begin to approach subjectivity. I most appreciate the native ease of use. I don’t have to search out lots of third-party apps to get the basic functionality I need, including reliable syncing/sharing of data, including actual (cellular, not VOIP) phone calls and text messages, which I’m not sure Android can do.

        There are lots of other advantages to iOS devices that make them *better*, in my opinion, like a BMW is better than a Kia, but a Kia can do pretty much anything a BMW can do, until you begin defining subjective or performance metrics. Binary can do/can’t do differences are generally rare in modern products of any kind, but for the iPad, these are a few.

      • Ray

        Most of those have already being done/addressed by Android devices.

        – Apps
        Business users need typically a limited set of applications. Most work on Android already (Office, SAP, etc.)

        – Privacy & security
        According to ABI, Samsung business smartphones have “better security features” than Apple’s. Not a stretch to think that it might be the same case with tablets as they are based on the same OS and security applications. For instance Samsung has already created KNOX (so successful that Google seems to be supporting it as part of Android for Work).

        “Samsung Edges Apple for #1 Ranking in ABI Research’s Enterprise Smartphone Competitive Assessment”

        “Nine smartphone OEMs were compared on eighteen criteria including workspace management solutions, partnerships and business customer adoption. Samsung’s large and diversified partner network coupled with it being the first Android OEM to offer an integrated enterprise solution pushed the company to the number one spot.” “Samsung was ranked as more Innovative with a wider range of enterprise devices and better security features. Samsung’s higher Innovation scores lead to its number one ranking.”

        Enterprise buyers do not take decisions based on Tim Cook’s “populist” misleading on-stage rants against Android. Those might work with consumers, spreading FUD (Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt) is a well-known marketing tactic that Apple has been using successfully in the area of privacy. However, enterprise buyers (CIOs, IT managers, procurement, etc.) base their decisions on hard data (pricing, TCO, etc.) and experts’ opinions.
        “But it is also worth noting that Google and Facebook do not actually sell people’s data to advertisers, as Mr. Cook suggested they did in his EPIC speech. In many areas of security and transparency, Google has been ahead of Apple. For instance, Google offered two-factor authentication of cloud-bound data before Apple did”

        – Be updated to latest OS
        That is very easy to do in tablets (easier than in smartphones where mobile carriers do exert some control).

        – Tech support
        Most OEMs already provide this. In fact companies like HP and Lenovo have a lot of experience serving and supporting the enterprise, as they already sell tons of PCs to them. Samsung also provides tech support specific for businesses:

        Enterprise customers don’t typically walk to a store with their IT equipment to get service, so the fact that Apple has stores is not that relevant for the enterprise.

        – Low cost
        Enterprises care about TCO (Total Cost of Ownership), and the main component of TCO for IT devices that become obsolete in 3-5 years is the acquisition cost
        (purchase price). This is actually the main ADVANTAGE that Android has. You can get tablets with the same business-specific functionality as an iPad for almost half of the price.

        CIOs who have to decide on the purchase of thousands of tablets, will not hesitate to buy cheaper tablets as they can save millions of dollars. This is actually one of the reasons why the PC clones have been so successful in the enterprise, because a multitude of OEMs could offer them with much lower prices than Apple or IBM for a comparable equipment (Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc.).

        In fact, if Apple is serious about the enterprise, it will put pressure on their margins as enterprises, as opposed to consumers, are educated and data-driven buyers that don’t buy devices from suppliers that want to charge 40% margins for attributes such as brand or physical design.

      • Space Gorilla

        Certainly Android has made gains in enterprise, but the reality is iOS continues today to have 70 to 80 percent of the enterprise market for mobile devices. It should be noted that Microsoft is now also making gains in enterprise. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft begins to eat into Android’s gains in enterprise.

      • Ray

        According to Good Technologies, both Android and Windows share is growing, and Apple’s is diminishing.

        “Microsoft begins to eat into Android’s gains in enterprise”. It sounds more like wishful thinking.

      • Space Gorilla

        Yes, diminishing to 80 percent, poor Apple. Interesting that you left off the *if* in my statement that you quote. Quite disingenuous Ray.

      • Ray

        No one here said poor Apple, they have done very well so far. This conversation started pointing out that it doesn’t make sense to ignore Android tablets as they also cannibalize the PC market, in fact they are more successful than Windows tablets at that (higher market share in enterprise for instance), which were actually included in the analysis. The data provided by everyone so far actually supports this point.

        Again, it seems Apple fanboys can’t stand that any objective industry observer notes that Android tablets are not only low-end devices. This might have been true four years ago, definitely not true in 2015.

      • obarthelemy

        That’s mostly FUD though. What acutal tasks can you do on an iOS but not on an Android ?

        To tackle the FUD anyway:
        – What rich tablet-optimized apps with a large user base are missing, specifically ? I’d argue that at least Android users can choose their default browser+rendering engine and Mail app, which iOS users can’t even ?
        – Is Apple guaranteeing anything ? Do they even have a better track record ? Where did the latest celebrities nudies leak from ?
        – see above. Antivirus companies are spreading FUD because they can’t even sell antivruses on iOS, so they’re agitating about the market they *can* sell to. Read the small print: Android vulnerabilities are for rooted, non-Playstore devices, which is a user choice, and less than 3% of them.
        – First, only 80% of iOS devices are on 8.x. Second, Android users who want that have the choice to get a Nexus device, and third, it doesn’t matter as much for a modular OS like Android: Google services, apps, and default apps get updated regardless of OS versions, as opposed to monolithic iOS were built-in apps are OS-dependent and can’t be switched out.
        – Apple Stores are nice if you’re next to one. Mine is 2hrs away, so…
        – Last time I calculated it, an iPhone lost more absolute value over time, because Apple prices don’t decrease over time as for Android flagships, and the starting point is higher, so losing 30% on a iPhone loses more money than 40% on a GS6.

      • pk_de_cville

        Good reports 90% of enterprise tablets are iPads. High level professionals with careers and reputations on the line make the choice over and over again for iOS.

        Although this doesn’t answer your laundry list of arguments one by one, some might consider 90% enterprise marketshare a ‘tell’ pointing to peerless reliability, excellence, security, UX, and service.

        Who knows? Tomorrow Android may win the day, but today the clear winner is iOS.

      • Ray

        Is that worldwide data or US data? I’m asking because when you travel to China or India for instance (where one out of three humans live) you will see lots of Android tablets (many of them being the only “computer”) and very few iPads, both in consumer and business settings.

        Again, the point made is that you cannot derive any meaningful conclusion about whether tablets are taking over PCs or not by arbitrarily excluding two thirds of the tablet market in the data and graph you are deriving conclusions from.

      • obarthelemy

        I’m curious… since 90+% has also been Windows’ share of desktop IT over Mac OS since forever, you’re saying all versions of Windows , again, over MacOS, show ” peerless reliability, excellence, security, UX, and service.” ?

        Edit, also, that’s 80%, not 90 ^^

      • pk_de_cville

        No, you said it, I didn’t.

        You just proffered that “…all versions of Windows , again, over MacOS, show ” peerless reliability, excellence, security, UX, and service.””

      • obarthelemy

        Consistency and logic isn’t your forte is it ?

      • pk_de_cville


      • Ray

        Yes, there is an illogical assumption being made often:
        Most volumes of Android devices sold are mid and low-end ->
        -> ALL Android devices are mid and low-end

        Following the automotive analogy that many like to use (even though it has limitations): if Apple is BMW (a company that focuses on mass premium segment), then Android is Volkswagen Group, covering ALL the segments from low-end to luxury:

        – Bentley, Lamborghini, Bugatti (Luxury)

        – Audi, Porsche (Mass Premium)

        – Volkswagen (Mass)

        – Skoda (Low-end)

        There are millions of consumers (and businesses) who do have money and prefer a Porsche to a BMW.

      • DarwinPhish

        The problem is that “Android Tablet” is too broad a category. There are certainly specific Android tablets that can do just about anything an iPad can do (and even some things an iPad can not do). However, there are a lot of Android tablets that can not. Every statistic and analysis I have seen suggests the the former (Androids tablets which can) is greatly outnumbered by the latter (Android tablets which can’t). This is why in the context of displacing traditional PC’s, the focus is on iPads.

      • obarthelemy

        Isn’t there the same issue with old or small iPads ? My *phone* has a 7″ screen, I couldn’t replace my PC with a 7-8″ tablet ^^
        And many cheap Android tablets do have a 1280×800 screen and 1 GB of RAM, and almost all have a quad-core CPU, which doesn’t mean much, but does mean performance is OK for mail/web/IM…

      • DarwinPhish

        Not really. Old iPads are not an issue because we are talking about what is next and Apple is still developing the product and platform. Small iPads are only an issue if users find the size limiting and Apple does not sell a desired size.

        What you fail to understand or concede is that it take more than specs for users to replace one computing device with another. This is especially true for enterprise customers for whom the hardware is just a small part of the total cost of deploying a solution.

      • Walt French

        There may be sophistry going on but there are compelling reasons why we don’t see Android tablets in these listings.

        A black hoodie is perfectly functional as dress — ask Mark Zuckerberg — but you don’t wear it to a wedding, nor would it be acceptable in most office environments. Po-TAH-to conveys the same information that Puh-TAY-to does but in most parts of the US, one sounds right, the other wrong.

        Several manufacturers made credible stabs at office-quality, amateur-hour-is-over tablets, but Motorola, HP, BlackBerry, Microsoft and others have fallen flat for a variety of reasons. So the self-reinforcing effects kick in, with a halo of grunge surrounding the anything-besides-iPad group.

        An example of special interest to me is the “Electronic Flight Bag” functionality for pilots. In the US, the dominant software is from Jeppesen, a Boeing sub that ported its XP version to the iPad, which turned the tide in terms of usability because a laptop is just wrong for a cockpit. Jeppesen then ported its app for the Surface RT (apparently on request of Delta, which outfitted its flight crews with various Microsoft portables), just in time for Microsoft to EOL the line. Apparently the Surface Pro 3 has now passed stringent FAA qualifications (must work after sudden decompression, etc) and FlightDeck Pro is now available to commercial pilots.

        But not to individuals who fly, most of whom want high-reliability gear in their own cockpit. Nor does the app include all the functionality of the iOS version (a frequently-noted fact with newer apps). And a review I just looked up notes,

        While the Surface is a capable computer that can do much more than display Jeppesen FliteDeck Pro, it suffers from a lack of other aviation-oriented applications. The Surface is a Windows computer, not just a tablet, so when looking at available software, one has to consider software that is compatible with Windows 8.1–not just tablet–applications. In any case, tablet-style aviation EFB apps such as ForeFlight, WingX, Garmin Pilot or FlyQ EFB are not available for the Surface.

        (Of course, Windows 8.1 apps are not generally optimized for touchscreen use.)

        In this case, there are direct, obvious reasons why a major effort by Microsoft, in alliance with a couple of major Microsoft shops, have failed to create a viable general alternative to the iPad: the complex app was developed before there was stable hardware, then the platform was significantly changed. Now, the OS is being significantly revised and the app will be rewritten…again. Customers get a less-featured device, with fewer usage-related apps. The review noted that Delta expects to roll out Surface 2’s—again, an EOL’d device—over the course of this year, 2 years after its competitors did so.

        This is about Surface, not Android tablets. But it highlights the sort of history that has conspired against Android in the Enterprise: a frightful inability to manage the OS, a late-to-market position, concomitant lack of an Enterprise ecosystem, inability to share knowledge within industries and thru vendors, a frightful history of security issues, vendors unwilling to perform regulatory certifications, on and on.

        I don’t challenge your claim that many Android tablets are equally as good as the iPad, hardware-wise; I’m not in the FUD business. What is unarguable, however, is that these tablets are not seen in businesses nearly as much—in the US, anyway—because of the perception that apps are second-rate or absent, because the devices are seen as unreliable and even unsupported, because the OEMs have, in their quest for volume business, not headlined high-quality devices in the marketplace, because Google has disdained collaboration with major 3rd party Enterprise vendors and IT shops, etc.

        Should it be this way? That’s not the job of an analyst; at best, a savvy one will recognize why an anomaly will disappear. But your claims that nobody can give a reason why Androids aren’t just as capable is NOT such an observation. You aren’t considering the current state of mobile, the volatility of market positions, the information challenge in provisioning thousands of devices and oh so many more. Until you recognize that you’re only looking at a part of the picture, or until the marketplace changes and Android apps become known first for quality and developer profits, versus first in headcount, you will continue to misunderstand the market.

      • obarthelemy

        I fully agree with you that looks and peer pressure are an important factor, and heavily in favor of the iPad. But, that is never said as such, and i-nalysts stumble over themselves rationalizing other reasons. Thank you for clearing the air about that. “You’ll never be fired for buying IBM” has morphed into “You’ll never be mocked for buying Apple” on the consumer/prosumer side.

        I’m utterly unqualified to discuss electronic flight bags, but Jeppesen seem to have Android apps (including commercial), and there are several blog posts about non-commercial pilots happy with Android devices. I’d argue the market isn’t big enough to get an Android OEM motivated to certify a tablet, but I can add “commercial aviation” to my list of stuuf iOS does but Android can’t. That’s 2 items, with music creation. Over the long term, I’ve seen enough clients burned by MS stopping support for Windows versions that I think Android’s open-sourceness (on top of backward compatibility, Android 2.x apps still run on 5.x, and of multiple suppliers) should prove a key factor.

        Android apps have pulled up to iOS in terms of revenue this year. Not a pip from i-nalysts. Most apps are exactly at par functionally, and I’d argue the OS and ecosystem have some unequaled creature comforts. Yet we’re still served the same 3yo crap about “no apps” and “not suitable for serious use”. I recently asked on another site if any of the “analsyst” were actually using Android as a daily driver. The answer was loudly silent. We’re not being told “Android tablets don’t look good enough and are not fashionable enough”, we’re still being told “Android tablets can’t do it, I’m not even putting them in my chart”. By people who’ve never even tried to use an Android device as a daily driver.

        I’d argue the job of an analyst is to at least understand what is perception and what is reality. That’s why I dub many of them i-nalysts: they are disinclined or unable to do so, going as far as rehashing Apple PR back to us without an iota of critical thinking.

      • Walt French

        Here are a couple of actual data points regarding the specific question of tablets in the “computing” (“productivity” since 2007):

        ①MS Office, which exists almost by definition on every Enterprise computer, came out first on iPad, and only months later on iOS and Android.

        The *MOST WIDELY USED* business software didn’t show enough potential on Android to prioritize development there.

        I doubt Microsoft will disclose the usage level — thanks to its subscriptions plan, it should know them rather well — but certainly their market research told them that Android was a secondary platform.

        ②Good Technology, which makes device management tools. A May 11, 2015 presser reads,

        iOS Retains Lead; Android and Microsoft Make Tablet Gains

        The “bring your own device” (BYOD) movement continues to mature with more personal tablets joining employee-owned smartphones as the devices of choice for business productivity on the go. iOS continued to show the strength of iPhone 6 devices in the enterprise with 72 percent of all device activations in the quarter. Android market share grew to 26 percent, while Windows Phone® held steady with one percent of the market share in total device activations.

        Specific to tablets, iOS maintained its lead with 81 percent of all activations in the quarter. After checking in with 92 percent during the same quarter last year, iOS surrendered market share to Android and Windows, which grew to 15 percent and 4 percent of the total tablet market share, respectively, in Q1 2015. This demonstrates a continuing trend of increasing diversity in the tablet marketplace.

        For the second quarter in a row, iOS significantly outpaced Android in regulated industries such as education (83 percent), public sector (80 percent) and financial services (76 percent), though its dominance in those industries dropped across the board from the previous quarter. Android again saw wider adoption in less-regulated industries such as high tech (47 percent), and jumped significantly in energy (44 percent). Microsoft operating systems increased in certain verticals for the first time, with Windows tablets making ground in retail at 5 percent and Windows Phone grabbing share in entertainment and media to reach 7 percent.

        (My emphasis added.)

        These are not comprehensive statistics—especially, Good’s products may be more favored in some commercial applications more than others—but they strongly support the notion that Android tablets are a very small part of Enterprise computing, and they play no better than a secondary role in Small & Medium-sized Businesses. Against that you are arguing from the pulpit, to a mostly-empty church.

      • obarthelemy

        1- MS Office took about 4 years to get onto iPads, and 4.8 years for Android. Earth shattering difference ? I think the relevant fact is not so much that it took 20% longer for Android, but that now it’s on both ?
        2- Maybe even more relevant is that there was a plethora of Office-compatible suites before. I’m not even sure how successful (both technically and commercially) MS Office is on tablets, now that so many users are used to something else ?

        Corp’s decision cycles are much slower than Consumers’. Android doubled its share, admittedly from a low base, in a year, mirroring Android’s similar rise in the Consumer market earlier. I don’t think that’s… dismissible, especially to the point of being locked out of charts ? Something is clearly happening. I’m fairly sure if it were MS going from 10% to 20% of the mobile phone market, we’d have a flurry of analysis about that.

        BTW, I’ve just spent way too much time looking for up to date wwide stats on phone and tablet web traffic, I’m fairly sure I saw one a while ago about Android tablet web traffic equalizing with iPads, same as for app and ad revenue, but couldn’t find anything fresher than early 2014, and that mostly for US. If you by chance have fresh data, I’m interested !

      • Walt French

        I’m not doubting either a lot of web traffic or that (ahem) new GoodTech activations are rising for Androids. I won’t claim that the recent Adobe report of 61% of “premium” video viewing (Flash vid, I guess) is terribly indicative of commercial use.

        I reiterate, however, that Microsoft prioritized Android tablets to go later than iPads, based on their impression that more business was to be had there, and once they decided against Windows-only, it was their first choice.

        So in aggregate, the data we have is that Androids are today, as they have been, little-used in situations that might be displacing PCs for “computing” (the stuff that “real computers” do), heh. And that part of this is the impression, around the whole industry, that iPads are the devices of choice for reliable, TCO-smart commercial use. The missing Android tablets are missing from the data…because they’re missing in action.

      • Ray

        So why are Windows tablet included? They only represent 4% of the market according to your data.

      • Ray

        “iOS surrendered market share to Android and Windows, which grew to 15 percent and 4 percent of the total tablet market share”

        This actually does not provide the rationale to include Windows tablets as potential PC disruptors, but not Android tablets, to the contrary. Do you see that?

      • checkthebox

        You think in a very binary way, “can do” vs “can’t do”, which blinds you in discussions like these. More important than something being technically possible is it being pleasant and straightforward to do, in a way that passes the tipping point between non-consumption and consumption. If you were to accept that simply “checking the box”on a feature or capability was an ocean away from having a happy horde of people using it, then you would find plenty of measured consumption data that casts significant doubt on your false equivalency.

        In other words, what’s the real difference between not having a feature, and having a feature that nobody uses? The latter is actually even worse, since you pay for the complexity with no associated benefit.

      • obarthelemy

        That’s a fair point, in some cases very meaningful (a fingerprint sensor must be reliable not to be infuriating…) In many cases, it is very subjective though. How do we assess “pleasantness” or “delight” ? Beauty mostly is in the eye of the beholder. Audiophiles find their $1000 one-way gold-plated HDMI cables clearly superior.
        Looking around me, I find iOS and Android mostly share the same issues (over-reliance on icons, poor discoverability), and the differences balance out (displaying a dead screenshot of the app while building the screen to make it seem quicker vs having a stable “back” button…). iOS didn’t even support custom sharing, and still doesn’t support changing default apps, both of which seem crazy to me ? At the most basic level, even a nicer-looking device can be a disadvantage, when it means it’s made of fragile class or radio-busting, scratch-prone metal.

      • checkthebox

        “How do we assess “pleasantness” or “delight”?”

        As I mentioned, there is plenty of usage data for various device functions that saves you from making such an assessment. Even simple things like browsing the internet show wide usage gaps, on a per device basis.

      • obarthelemy

        So we’re circling back to the usage = competency fallacy, and Windows is a much better OS than MacOS because lots more surfing happens on Windows than on MacOS ?

      • checkthebox

        You might be circling back to some fallacy, but I’m getting tired of quoting myself in this conversation. I wrote “on a per device basis”.

      • Ray

        The issue is that the thinking “a feature that nobody uses” is wrong. There are millions of users hiring Android tablets for PC-like jobs-to-be-done.
        A few years ago that might have been the case when the iPad was the only “power-tablet”, since Android lacked many apps, but that kind of thinking nowadays is outdated, both hardware and ecosystem have caught up and in some aspects surpassed iPads, and Android tablets are being used by both consumers and businesses for PC tasks. This is very visible in Asia, by far the largest computing market.

      • checkthebox

        Where’s the data for your assertions here? There’s clear data about the serious gap between platforms in amount of time used, web browsing, etc.

      • Ray

        “iOS surrendered market share to Android and Windows, which grew to 15 percent and 4 percent of the total tablet market share” (Good Technologies – Survey for Enterprise)

        This actually does not provide the rationale to include Windows tablets as potential PC disruptors, but not Android tablets, to the contrary. Do you see that?

      • checkthebox

        What does market share have to do with per-device usage stats, at all? Are you sure you read the posts you’re replying to?

      • Ray

        There are more Android tablets than Windows tablets disrupting the PC market. So it does not make sense to count Windows tablets and ignore Android tablets.

      • checkthebox

        In what way do you think this addresses anything I wrote? Why is it a reply to me?

      • Ray

        That’s exactly the point I was making when you requested supporting data

      • checkthebox

        If you’re making a point unrelated to anything I wrote, then I would prefer that it wasn’t an unrelated reply to my post.

      • tmay

        Aggregating Android/AOSP/fork devices for marketshare is a wonderful liturgy for the Church of Marketshare, but not much else.

        I suppose that these devices set the stage for many aspirational consumers to move up to Apple’s ecosystem. But other than numbers, I’m not seeing much benefit to Google other than its original intent; insurance against being blocked out of the mobile advertising market by various players.

      • Ray

        The Church of Market Share is a tired criticism that has no basis. Apple is successful because they have a significant market share. If their market share was 1% instead of 18%, they’d be way less profitable and successful. In fact, they’d be irrelevant to the industry.
        Higher market share is ALWAYS better in markets where there are network effects and/or economies of scale. That DOES NOT mean that it’s the only factor that matters, but it is better in any case.

        Google Play or Google apps are not the only way that Google benefits from generic Android expansion.

        Market share even with non-Google Android still benefits Google as, besides blocking competitors such as Microsoft and Apple (every AOSP device sold is one Windows or iPhone less sold), they also enhance all the sides of the Android platform and increase its network effects:
        – more OEMs investing in Android-compatible software and hardware

        – more developers working on Android OS and tools for development, testing and simulation

        – more investment and maturity of Android development, testing and simulation tools

        – more apps (it requires almost no investment to submit AOSP apps to Google Play for global expansion of app developers)

        – more users (familiar with Android OS)

      • All analyses based on ratios (X/Y, etc.) are predicated on abstracting some underlying complexity. It’s easier to understand a share figure composed of a value less than one than one with many digits. It’s easier to compare share figure with another share figure without having to weigh each individual in the set.
        However, abstractions inevitably also hide information. They blend two data points into one which cannot be separated back into two. There are also assumptions being made about the denominator being a relevant quantity. What is an addressable market? What is being asserted with a claim of potential? How does one account for usage and not users? How do we measure non-consumption and those which don’t participate in a market but would do so if enabled? How do you qualify those who do participate?
        For instance, “market share of 14%” creates confusion when it implies that obtaining one billion users is a failure since there are seven billion potential users. But then we don’t know if the one billion users obtained may be more than 90% of the value in the market. In this one figure there cannot be a detailed understanding of the composition and characterization of billions of people, each of whom is infinitely complex. In a simple count of noses we may miss the most important measure of success.

      • neutrino23

        Android doesn’t run Keynote which I use a lot for presenting.

        It doesn’t have iBooks Author or iBooks which I use to create content rich books. I just finished a first version of an analysis guide which weighs in at about 700 MB due to the videos, slide shows and Keynote presentations it contains.

        It doesn’t run Notesuite which I use for note taking and collecting clippings and such. I love this as it uses iCloud to sync to the Mac version so changes I make on the iPad show up on my rMBP.

        Nor does Android work with the Apple Watch I’m getting for Fathers Day.

        Nor does it have Pixelmator or iDraw ( now called Draw it seems).

        Android, for me, is a dead end with few useful apps and no connectivity to the rest of the technology in my life.

        Not only that, even the Korean press criticizes the fit and finish of Samsung devices, the major producer of Android gadgets.

        This reminds me of the Mac/PC commercial with Gisele Bundchen where John Hoghman claims to be able to do videos as well as Mac (Justin Long) can. On paper you can make check lists that seem to show that Android has a lot of apps or features but in practice they don’t measure up.

      • Ray

        So you have invested in Apple’s software ecosystem and now have no choice but to buy high-margin devices from the only company that works with that ecosystem? Sounds like a winning business model for Apple, not so much for consumers locked-in.

        All those jobs can be done in an Android device, just different software from Microsoft, Google and other companies.

      • tmay

        Aggregating Android/AOSP/fork tablet devices that have many variations in hardware, OS version, UI, security and build doesn’t seem like a productive path for an enterprise; there will have to be curation to a few or a single device and generation.

        You of course know this because the OEM’s are falling all over themselves trying to differentiate themselves so that they can profit.

        Apple states that iOS 9 will support will include the following;

        iPhone 6 Plus
        iPhone 6
        iPhone 5S
        iPhone 5C
        iPhone 5
        iPhone 4S

        iPad Air 2
        iPad Air
        iPad 4
        iPad 3
        iPad 2

        iPad Mini 3
        iPad Mini 2
        iPad Mini

        iPod Touch 5G

        and of course the next generation of iPhones and iPads.

        Doesn’t seem like an enterprise has to do all that much curation of devices in the Apple ecosystem, nor do developers, and you still get optional access to Google apps and MS products. Except for some small savings that might be had on the initial hardware expense, why even look at Android?

      • obarthelemy

        Why shouldn’t they ? they’ll get a choice of suppliers and devices (say, rugged, XL battery, smaller, larger, with pen…), price points, a lot more BYOD, …

        Regarding your list (you should insert a blank line between each device next time to make it look bigger. sorry, I won’t list all the 4.x / 5.x Android devices, there are thousands, so… I win ?)

        1- Why does OS version matter ? All apps I use work on all my devices, from 4.0 to 5.0, mostly 2.x even. Android supplies backward and forward compatibility, and, contrary to monolithic iOS, most apps and tools move forward regardless of OS version, and/or can be replaced by substitutes from the appstore.

        2- That list is mostly PR. People who have “upgraded” their iPhone 4S to 8.x for example, are missing a lot of features (so they’re using not “full” 8.x, but a fragmented, partial 8.x) and are having performance issues

        3-Even if each device was getting the full version of the OS (which they aren’t), I assume you’re trying to use fragmentation. What about different resolutions, different ports, different device features (touchID), and again, the partial version of the OS that runs on older device ?

      • tmay


        Do you really intend to purport the “fragmentation” in iOS devices with that of multiple OEM’s and multiple Android variants, not to mention the forks and AOSP? There are magnitudes of difference in implementation for Enterprise between iOS and Android.

    • Glaurung-Quena

      The article is looking at tablets which can replace PCs. Android gets put on a lot of tablets, but only a tiny fraction of them are high end devices that can be used like an Ipad as a PC replacement. The vast majority of android tablets end up getting used as single-purpose appliances, or as portable video watching devices.

      CF and

      • Ray

        Thanks for the data. Yes, many low-end Android tablets are not even connected to the Internet, but are used more like an iPod touch to consume media.

        However there are many OEMs that produce high-end Android tablets, so in aggregate sales are most likely at least in the millions.

        Besides, since Horace acknowledges that even smartphones are partially cannibalizing PCs (email, light office editing, etc, can be done on smartphones), why would Android tablets not participate in that cannibalization?

  • Enrico Susatyo

    I think perhaps you’re forgetting that more and more, there are less unique PC jobs to be done. Even things like presentation that has always been a job that is best done on PC, is being shifted to tablets with apps like Perspective.

    I think what we will see is that tablets will disrupt the PCs by having apps that can do those PC jobs as well if not better on them. Think of dictation, multi touch inputs, etc. Those capabilities will be used by tablets to do PC jobs on them better.

    • Ray

      Agree, and in fact with the ubiquity of low-latency high-speed wireless connectivity (4G and WiFi today, and soon 5G), professionals on the move (executives, sales people, service professionals,etc.) just require a device that allows them to do input/output to/from the cloud, where most business apps are already running anyway (Office, Salesforce, etc.).

      Many PCs sold today (notebooks) are pretty much tablets with a keyboard anyway. The distinction is blurry, as evidenced by the confusion of industry analysis firms that segment the market differently. The computing power of today’s tablets is higher than PCs’ just a few years ago. In fact desktop and tablet OSs might merge at some point, technically the move to mobile OSs to 64bit already facilitating that, and from a user perspective it would simplify the experience.

  • handleym

    I think the real problem today is that consumers, informed by mindless “pundits”, imagine that the future consists of some single uber-device that will do everything for them, and tablets do not fit into this vision.

    This idea is superficially seductive (enough so to drive Microsoft over a cliff) but a few minutes thought shows that it is idiotic. Computing is cheap and getting cheaper, and when this happens in any space, we purchase multiple, optimized items. Our long-ago predecessors owned a single jacket and a single pair of shoes, our grandparents owned a single clock, maybe our parents only owned a single TV.

    Computing will follow that same path; what’s holding it back today is the hassle of maintaining a fleet of devices in synch. Apple is aware of this and has laid a substantial framework for resolving this; but the framework is still buggy enough to be constantly irritating as of iOS8/OSX10.10; we’ll see how much better iOS9/OSX 10.11 are. Google is less aware of this — their single big plan is to have everything on their servers and cached on your devices, with less capability to fall back on when that’s not ideal. MS, as usual, is stuck somewhere fifteen years in the past and utterly unaware of what’s going on.

    With this as the current state of software it’s not surprising that pundits living outside the Apple world (and those living in the Apple world who are heartily sick of it NOT “just working”) would hope for and see the future as a single magic device (in all its forms, eg the “plug my phone into a dock” version, or the project Ara version, or the laptop rotates to a tablet version); but these people are all trying to steer into the future by looking at the rearview mirror.

    Once this is all sorted out (with Apple, hopefully in this year’s OS releases; with Google and MS maybe in five years) people will think about thinks much more sensibly; in terms of human body factors. The tablet will be the device that’s a screen that’s easy to hold and gives you a lot of info. The phone will be the device that’s in your pocket. The iMac will be the device that gives you a large screen area and some more powerful (but not portable) input modalities, etc. This idiotic argument of “should I buy a hammer or a screwdriver to be my one true handyman tool” will finally come to an end.

    So it’s not the iPad that needs to get better, it’s
    the “personal cluster” software that needs to get better. (And a LOT better. All we’ll get this year, even if it’s bug free, is the utter basics. We still need things like “setting up my email accounts, preferences, etc on ONE device mirrors that on ALL my devices.)
    Apple should have been working on a personal cluster OS (ie a meta-OS that controls/configures all these devices) years ago. It is THAT lack that’s holding back iPad sales.

    • Ray

      I agree there will be no one single device, and I don’t think Horace is suggesting that. What happens is that tablets are cannibalizing PCs for certain lighter tasks, just like smartphones are cannibalizing PCs (and even tablets) by getting larger screens, multitasking, more input capabilities, etc.

      Typically each device survives in the application domain they are better at: PCs at productivity tasks that require long sessions, smartphone at tasks that require short/mobile sessions, and tablets something in between (what’s a tablet if not a smartphone with a larger display anyway). It happens the same in other markets affected by technology such as cars (SUVs, trucks, 2-seaters, etc.), media, etc.

      “with Apple, hopefully in this year’s OS releases; with Google and MS maybe in five years”
      Or maybe the other way around. Apple’s business model relies on making money selling high-margin widgets. Cloud services or some kind of meta-OS as you suggested (which is essentially a cloud application) are not central to Apple’s business model, and not their core capabilities, so it might be a different company that realizes this vision first. Maybe Google, whose business model and vision is much more aligned with a pan-device OS . Or maybe even an IoT startup that we haven’t heard of yet.

      What’s holding back iPad sales is that tablets (as opposed to smartphones) have a larger replacement cycle. Once most homes that want a tablet have a tablet, there is a certain market saturation. A tablet today can do pretty much the same jobs as a tablet 5 years ago. Also, they are not tied to mobile carriers service contracts so there is not push from powerful carriers to incentivize a device renewal every 2 years.

      Essentially tablets are much closer to TV set replacement cycles (~7 years) than smartphone replacement cycles (~2 years). Because of that, the market size of tablets (measure as volumes sold per year) is much smaller than the market size of smartphones. Which means that the iPhone will continue to be the device on which Apple relies mostly for revenues and profits. Macs, iPads and watches will be secondary.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        “Keep it as cloudy as necessary but no cloudier”

        A networking culture is one big centralization-vs-distributive balancing act with the optimal tipping points yet to be determined.

        All that DNA data doesn’t live in centralized storage. It is redundantly localized in every cell. That may well turn out to be a tried-and-true universal complex-living-system survival strategy that also applies to our living/adaptive digital-nervous-system culture as it emerges ?

      • Ray

        Agree, clients will not be ultra-thin but will probably have non-trivial local processing and storage capabilities. Some use cases require very low-latency and completely custom UI to provide a good user experience. Even Google, which was pushing for the ultra-thin client model, has realized this and has started to produce off-line local versions of their apps (both Chrome OS and Android).

        Still there is a very interesting battle going on in the cloud that most consumers are not hearing much about between Google, Amazon, Microsoft… It started with Amazon renting their data centers, and it’s now become one of the central battles in IT. The CAPEX spending levels are through the roof.

        Once could think that those giants might create a proprietary OS/platform in the cloud, where consumers would connect to run their SaaS apps in their local devices, and any independent developer would have to submit their apps to that cloud platform. Essentially it would mean a layer on top of the web that would create some kind of proprietary-zation of the web. There would be still a need for clients, local OSs and software, but the “app store” would be controlled by a new cloud OS/platform.

    • Davel

      Consumers are not informed by mindless pundits.

      By far the single largest category by units of computing devices is the smart phone to the tune of one billion a year. The single most used category of software is social.

      People buy and use what is useful to them.

      You focus on the OS and the OS is not where it is at. Yes the OS is the container that holds your browser and other apps, but today most of your data is in the cloud so your information is just an http call away. Http is OS agnostic.

      The battle of Android and iOS is about platforms. Which vehicle offers you the most usability. People switch between Android and iOS all the time. If you use pandora or spotify for music and have you data on some cloud service it is a simple mater to swap a device and or OS to one that has more usability for you.

      These other issues you focus on are particular to a vendor and their ecosystem. Apple offers cross device data availability in order to make your life easier but more importantly so you have an incentive to stay in family.

      There is friction to having access to your data between platforms. Not enough to switch but enough that to pick up one platform and continue on another causes pain.

  • iObserver

    Wonderful article, thank you for the insight Horace.

    Due to the cyclical nature of quarterly sales, I was hoping you might be able to reproduce the graph above with annual sales instead. It would help me greatly to visualize the change in the market.

    • Walt French

      Second the sentiment, and may I say how GREAT it’d be to have a section of the archive for all the charts & their data?

      • iObserver

        I second the chart section, and third my own idea 🙂

  • Salah Izii

    always check out this website before buying any Apple products

  • “As phones get better they take on more jobs and some of those jobs are those of tablets.” This works for games and social media but the tablets will win when it comes to productivity apps. The problem is that compelling solutions (jobs to be done) are currently missing in action. This will change.

  • obarthelemy

    I think the question is not so much what’s next for iPad, as what’s next for Mobile ecosystems in general.
    On the device features front, a quick look at Android devices, Samsung’s in particular, shows what’s next: pen, larger sizes, split-screen/PiP (check), support for standard peripherals (mouse, hard drive, printer, gamepad…), desktop dock for quickly switching to a larger screen + kbms etc…
    What I find puzzling is that, having proven that Mobile ecosystems can tackle tasks complex enough for probably 80% of use cases, neither Apple nor Google are going for the legacy laptop and desktop market with actual devices. There’s movement on the Android front, from major OEMs even (Toshiba and HP for laptops, Dell, Huawei, ZTE, Xiaomi for dekstops), but with no official support from Google, this can’t take off meaningfully. Microsoft is trying to take advantage of this by going from Legacy to Mobile, and will be able to keep trying as long as they are printing money on the Legacy side. I’m surprised Apple and Google are not taking the fight back to MS. Apple is probably a bit leery of cannibalizing Mac sales, Google still hoping Chrome OS can do it ?

  • Antonio D’souza

    “As a percent of smartphone users that implies 43%. As a percent of iPhone users that represents 47%”

    That implies that the vast majority of smartphones used in the US are iPhones, which I’m pretty sure is not the case.