Android tablets still struggling; iOS hogging all the gaming revenue

More potentially grim news for Android fans this week. According to a press release from IDC, Android is dragging down the whole "media tablet" market. The analyst firm predicted sales of 18.6 million units for the first quarter of 2012 but only 17.4 units actually sold.

IDC says the iPad is holding its own but a "steep drop" in Android shipments hurt total figures. In particular, the Amazon Fire seems to have nose-dived from 16.8% of the market to just 4%. As things stand now, Apple is #1 in the tablet market (no surprise there) and Samsung is #2, followed by Amazon, Lenovo and Barnes & Noble's Nook in fifth place.

In spite of this, IDC thinks things will turn around for Android:

"It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N, and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points," Mainelli added. "We expect a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price point, and Google will enter the market with an inexpensive, co-branded ASUS tablet designed to compete directly on price with Amazon's Kindle Fire. The search giant's new tablet will run a pure version of Android, whereas the Fire runs Amazon's own forked version of the OS that cuts Google out of the picture."

How long have we been screaming for a cheaper, quality Android tablet? Glad to hear the vendors are finally getting with the program. Personally, I'm really looking forward to seeing what Google and ASUS bring to market. While I enjoy my Kindle Fire for consuming Amazon media content, I'd love a 7" device that has access to the entire Android ecosystem. I'd love one, but I'm not willing to pay $350-$400 for one. If Google's tablet launches at $199 I'm all over it.

And then there's the other bad news. Newzoo [via Venturebeat] published a report pointing out that in the mobile gaming space, iOS users spend five times as much as Android users.

I'm calling that bad news for Android just because it isn't the kind of figure that's going to get an iOS app developer to decide to port to Android.

Newzoo's CEO Peter Warman attributes the discrepancy to the fact that iOS owners have to have a credit card tied to their account, making it easy and seamless to purchase the apps themselves, or more importantly in-app purchases (91% of the cash spend on gaming is spent on in-app purchases, Newzoo says).

I found this statement surprising. I have a credit card tied to my Android account and assumed most people did, but perhaps not. Plus I can easily purchase an app from a web browser and have it automatically download to my device which is something iOS lacks, to the best of my knowledge. I actually find the purchasing process easier on Android than on iOS, but that's actual app purchasing; I don't do much in-app buying. Maybe that's the difference?

Of course it's also tempting to spin this as evidence that Android users have more important things to do with their time than play games all day!! Kidding aside, if mobile gaming is important to you then you've probably already decided that iOS is your mobile platform of choice. To some extent pointing out that people spend more money on iOS games than Android games is the same as pointing out that people spend more money on Windows games than on OS X games: obviously the platform with the larger library and stronger developer support is going to account for more sales.

As an Android fan, I keep waiting for the OS to "turn the corner" so to speak, but I have to admit I'm starting to get worried. When Windows 8 tablets start hitting the market I don't think they're going to make things any easier for Android. The iPad is entrenched and I can't help but think that if Windows 8 steals market share from anywhere, it's going to be from Android.

Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment!

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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