Just a few years back, the only tablet that seems to matter is the iPad but the Android is fast catching up, thanks mostly to Google's Nexus 7 and Samsung's mid-range Galaxy Tab collection, now on its third iteration.
Fast forward to 2013, experts will agree that the tablet competition is now a level playing field. Google offers power and affordability via the second Nexus 7 while Samsung plays up the Galaxy brand recognition by packaging its Galaxy Tab 3 series to look exactly like its flagship smartphone - the Galaxy S4.
And they behave almost similarly, making it a lot easier for tablet shoppers to look beyond the iPad and iPad Mini models.
With the increasing base following that the Nexus 7 and the Galaxy Tab have created since last year, will Android finally upend the refreshed Apple slates, which in the second half of 2013 will crash the scene as the slimmed down iPad 5, thinner and lighter, and the vastly-improved iPad Mini 2, likely to sport a faster processor, higher RAM provision and a super-bright Retina-powered screen display?
Not too fast, according to research firm Canalys. In a new report, the firm conceded that Android challengers of the iPad are gaining significant ground, with Samsung largely reflecting the surge by posting double-digit increases in shipments.
Yet there is one major hiccup that appears to bog down the Android tablet push: "(Our) research highlights one of the deficiencies of the Android ecosystem - limited availability of high-quality, tablet-optimized apps in the Google Play store," the firm's report was quoted by BGR News as saying.
To date, "there are over 375,000 apps in the Apple App Store that are designed with iPad users in mind," Canalys said.
In contrast, Google Play only offers a fraction of this programmed for tablet applications, meaning most of the apps downloaded by millions of Android tablet users were forced to make do with softwares that were actually built for smartphones.
The Google ecosystem has failed to encourage app developers into uploading creations that were deliberately optimised for tablet use and Canalys has identified one key reason why iPad app developing appears more promising - the absence of great opportunity to monetise their efforts.
"App developers need to see clear potential to build robust and sustainable business models around apps built for the (Android) platform, so increasing monetisation potential must be a priority," the Canalys report said.
So in fine-tuning the tablet sub-sector in Google Play, the iOS rival should lure more active contributions from developers, possibly leading to the uploading of more tablet-optimised application, which in the end would benefit millions of Android users.
By that, Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Galaxy Tab 3 series will gain more solid traction against the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 duo, which according to analysts are set for an October 2013 release date.
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