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Android eats into Apple iPad's dominance

The Apple iPad's complete and utter dominance of the tablet market is over, according to bean counters at Strategy Analytics.

The market watchers there reckon Apple's virtual monopoly on proddable PCs has been toppled by Samsung, whose heavily-promoted Galaxy Tab is starting to make an impact on sales.

Until recently, most pundits put Apple's share of the tablet pie at more than 95 per cent. Some have recently said that it's now more like 90 per cent, but a new charge of Android-powered devices, lead by the diminutive Galaxy Tab, have left the Cupertino company clinging to something closer to a 75 per cent share.

It's no surprise that Apple's dominion has eventually been eroded after every OEM in the world sat back timidly waiting to see if the iPad would crash and burn, or that they are now all cheerily jumping on device's coat tails in order to mop up those not willing to enter Steve Jobs' Walled Garden.

Apple got a year's head start on the competition and now has a tried and tested device with a mature operating system and more software than you could shake a USB stick at. But there will always be a market for people not willing to pay Apple's premium prices, those who believe that a device isn't worth having unless you are free to fiddle around with its innards and break it, and those who believe a device which can't play games and videos in a proprietary format which has held the Internet to ransom for the best part of a decade (Adobe's Flash) isn't fit for use.

Strategy Analytics claims that Android tablets accounted for 22 per cent of those shipped (not sold) in the fourth quarter of 2010 which is ten times the number shipped in the previous three months.

Apple sold 7.3 million iPads compared to two million Galaxy Tabs in Q4 2010 which would seem to add some credence to the market share estimates.

Apple's iPad 2, which many believe will appear in late spring or early summer this year, had better have something pretty special to offer if it wants to stay ahead of the pack.

With the tablet-centric Android Honeycomb OS just around the corner, and more than 100 tablet devices vying for attention at this year's CES, at least one of them is bound to capture the public imagination and give Apple a run for its money.

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