Android has the edge over Apple in tablet sales for the first time in Australia, according to a Telsyte report on the six-month period ending 30 June.
However, Apple still has the most popular tablet with the older-model iPad 2 (released in March 2011) and the company is expected to take back the market-share crown in the second half of the year with the release of iOS 8, Telsyte said in its Australian Media Tablet Market Study 2014.
Although Telsyte's study focussed on consumer behaviour, there could be an impact for business as more employees use consumer devices in the workplace as part of the 'bring your own device' (BYOD) trend.
In the first six months of 2014, Android had 47 per cent market share, while Apple had 46 per cent, Telsyte said. Windows devices represented the remaining 7 per cent, the analyst firm said.
While Android outsold Apple in terms of the number of tablets, the premium-priced iPad devices made more money, with low-end devices representing a large proportion of the Android sales, it said.
Telsyte also said its surveys show greater purchase intentions for iPad overall in the second half, as well as higher repeat purchase intentions by existing iPad users compared to Android tablet users.
“Apple should have a strong second half if it can bring upgraded models to market and benefit from a halo effect created by the iPhone 6 launch,” said Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi.
“More than half of iPhone users already have an iPad, [and] whether consumers upgrade both this year will be the question many will be asking.”
In general, Australians appeared less interested in tablets in the first half of 2014, buying about 500,000 fewer tablets than they did in the previous six months, according to Telsyte.
The first half of the year is usually slower than the second half, which includes increased purchasing around the holiday season. However, Telsyte said that this was only part of the problem.
The report found that “longer upgrade cycles are impacting new sales with the market now in a lull as customers wait for a reason to upgrade.”
Even so, Telsytye reported that the population penetration of media tablets increased to 46 per cent or 10.8 million people at the end of June 2014.
Telsyte predicted that Australian tablet sales will increase to 2.1 million in the second half. That’s still smaller than the 2.3 million sold in the same half last year.
“A tablet upgrade cycle might not commence until current devices become more readily obsolete, either in terms of computational capability, operating system, application interoperability, graphics or connectivity,” said Fadaghi.
The ability to work with wearable devices or sensors might be a driving factor for upgrades, he said.
However, new smartphone sales this year could delay purchases of new tablets for many existing users until 2015 or later, Telsyte said said.
In a report released in July, Telsyte found that demand for smartphones is expected to be nearly three times that of tablets, with 5.6 million expected sales in H2 2014.