Android Surprises with 39% Share of Tablet Shipments in Q4 2011

Apple may be the dominant headline stealer in the realm of tablet computers, but today Android is taking center stage.

Based on the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global tablet shipments reached 27 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011. As a result, Android claimed a record 39 percent global share.

Still, Apple held on to a 58 percent market share, although that once sizable lead continue to diminish.

“Global tablet shipments reached an all-time high of 26.8 million units in Q4 2011, surging 150 percent from 10.7 million in Q4 2010,” says Peter King, Director at Strategy Analytics. “Demand for tablets among consumer, business and education users remains strong. Apple shipped a robust 15.4 million iPads worldwide and maintained its strong market leadership with 58 percent share during the fourth quarter of 2011. Apple shrugged off the much-hyped threat from entry-level Android models this quarter.”

Other findings from the research show that global tablet shipments reached 66.9 million units in 2011, surging 260 percent from 18.6 million in 2010.

“Consumers are increasingly buying tablets in preference to netbooks and even entry-level notebooks or desktops,” the report reads.

Additionally, Microsoft captured a niche 1 percent global tablet share in Q4 2011.

“The upcoming release of Windows 8 this year cannot come quickly enough for Microsoft,” the research firm concludes, “so its hardware partners can start competing more effectively in the tablet space.”