'The tide is turning' between Apple and Android tablets, research shows

Samsung tablet
Can Android finally claim the top tablet spot?

A research group said today that Android tablets will finally beat the iPad in 2013 as tablet sales rise 38 percent over sales in 2012.

ABI Research predicted that 150 million tablets will ship in 2013, a figure that's up significantly from last year.

But it's not surprising that tablet sales are rising while PC sales continue to get more and more pathetic.

What's more interesting is what ABI predicted for Apple and Android.

Taking a bite of the Apple

The ever-waging war between iOS and Android is about to shift toward Google's OS, at least in the tablet space, ABI Research said.

"The tide is definitely turning toward Android-based tablets," Jeff Orr, mobile devices senior practice director at ABI said in a press release. He added that "Apple will not slouch as it feels the competition approaching."

Nevertheless, the firm forecasted that Android tablets are about to finally overtake the iPad, despite the "timely" introduction of the in iPad mini in 2012.

It also predicted that Samsung will be the breakaway challenger that will differentiate itself the most from the Android pack. "A well-executed Samsung tablet strategy could double the company's market share this year," said Orr.

And so it goes

Apple shouldn't exactly feel blindsided by ABI's findings, as analysts have been predicting Android's eventual victory for years in spite of iOS's continued dominance.

In 2010, the year of its debut, the iPad had 87 percent of the tablet market, but during 2012 Android's growth more often than not outstripped Apple's, and the future that's being predicted now wasn't hard to see.

RBC Capital Markets researcher Mike Abramsky said in early 2011 that Android would dominate the tablet market by 2014, a prediction that looks like it will come true.

And the International Data Corporation (IDC) made the same claim in March this year, saying that Android tablets will overtake iPads in 2013 thanks to price-conscious consumers choosing more affordable options.

IDC said Android will take up to 48.8 percent of the market, while Apple could drop to 46 percent of tablets sold. Its overall sales forecast of 190.9 million tablets shipped was much higher than ABI Research's more recent figure of 150 million, though.

In any case, the same thing has already happened in smartphones, with Android devices pulling ahead of the iPhone last year.

ABI said that 60 percent of tablets shipped in 2012 were iPads and iPad minis, while 37 percent used Android (including OS branches like the one used on the Kindle Fire HD).

Unless Apple has an ace up its sleeve, it could finally lose the top tablet spot to Android this year.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.