At September’s iPad event, Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook seemed unconcerned about the iPad’s slipping marketshare. But the reality is that last year, Apple had a 40.2% share of worldwide tablet sales. That number has since dropped to 29.6% as tablets running Google’s (GOOG) Android have come to dominate the market.
But instead of panicking, Cook pointed to the iPad as the tablet that’s actually being used by consumers. If Black Friday online shopping stats are any indicator, he’s got a point. Data from Adobe (ADBE) and IBM (IBM), tracking millions of transactions at U.S. websites, shows Apple’s iPad dominates online shopping.
The numbers also show the growing importance of mobile web usage as compared to traditional PC access. With Apple’s iOS in the driver’s seat — despite the overall dominance of Android smartphones and tablets — maybe Cook has a reason for staying the course with a premium pricing model instead of chasing market share with cheaper products.
One of Cook’s takeaway quotes in the preamble to introducing the news iPads: “Does a unit of market share matter if it’s not being used?”
That’s as close as Apple got to addressing eroding market share. There have been calls for a cheap iPhone and a cheap iPad to appeal to mobile holdouts in the U.S. and the hundreds of millions of potential customers in emerging markets. Apple’s response was the $549 iPhone 5C and a new iPad Mini with Retina Display that cost $70 more than the previous year’s model.
Looking at the numbers from IBM and Adobe, which were published in Business Insider, the gap between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android activity is dramatic. Despite Android’s lead in the number of mobile devices being sold, iOS accounted for 28.2% of U.S. online traffic on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, while Android held 11.4%.
But the big picture here is the issue of mobile Internet use over the traditional PC. IBM’s figures say that nearly 40% of the traffic it was tracking originated from a mobile device. Is it any wonder why PC shipments are now being projected to drop by more than 10% by the time 2013 sales are tallied?
Android tablets have a definite cost advantage compared to Apple’s iPad. Google’s Nexus 7 is incredibly popular and starts at just $229, where Apple’s iPad Mini with Retina Display (the cheapest of the new 2013 iPads) has a sticker price starting at $399.
But that price differential might just be the difference between a true casual-use tablet and a primary computing device.