Connect with top gaming leaders in Los Angeles at GamesBeat Summit 2023 this May 22-23. Register here.

iPad 4Android may have wrestled massive smartphone market share away from Apple the past couple of years, but until now Apple’s managed to hold onto its dominance in tablet sales. That’s now changing, says IDC analyst Sameer Singh. Not only will Apple’s market share shrink, it will also start to see its iPad unit shipments drop, he says.

That would be a disaster for Apple, which pioneered the modern tablet revolution.

According to the IDC, Apple’s global tablet market share has dropped from over 60 percent in Q2 2012 to around 40 percent in each of the third and fourth quarters of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013. And while in Q1 2012 Apple outsold Android in the tablet market by 11.8 million to 8 million, in Q1 2013 Android outsold Apple by 27.8 million to 19.5 million.

That 19.5 million iPad shipment number should drop this quarter, says Singh.

“iPad shipments normally see strong growth in calendar Q2,” Singh wrote. “However, this is always driven by a new product launch.”

The problem is that during April’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook said Apple was hard at work on amazing new hardware and software, but that it was not coming until the fall and “throughout 2014.” Which means, Singh says, trouble:

“This means that iPad shipments should see another sequential decline in Q2 (to ~17-18 million).”

And that will push iPad market share below the 40 percent mark, making Android not only the majority tablet operating system but also the market leader by a wide margin. That’s bad news for Apple, but Apple can survive without sales leadership.

What would be tougher for Apple to survive is declining shipment volumes.

VentureBeat's mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative enterprise technology and transact. Discover our Briefings.