Strategy Analytics has some latest statistics on global tablet shipments for Q4 2011. Global tablet shipments reached 26.8 million units for that quarter which is an increase of 150% year on year.
The iPad saw a contraction of market share that was taken up by Android tablets. While Apple iPads are still more popular, I believe it’s only a matter of time before Android shipments exceed those of the iPad. However, I also believe forthcoming Windows 8 tablets might damage both Apple’s and Google’s market shares.
What does this mean for mobile developers? As has happened with smartphones, I believe we will see many iOS app titles being ported to Android. We will also see side-by-side development of Android and iOS rather than just iOS. Some people will go for an Android first strategy as that market is less saturated with existing apps.
However, having switched over myself, as an end user, from an iPad to an Android tablet, I can see there are problems ahead for developers. End users have no way of knowing, in the Android Market, what apps have been optimised for tablets and which are legacy apps that run, but don’t look that good, on a tablet. This means that apps developed for tablets get lost in the hundreds of thousands of compatible but less desirable apps. For developers, it’s difficult to get seen even though there aren’t many tablet specific Android apps. The Android Market has a section for tablet apps but this includes both legacy apps and those written specifically for the tablet.
UPDATE 29 February: I now have a simple site at http://www.appsforandroidtablet.com/ listing tablet specific Android apps I have found.