updated 05:40 pm EDT, Wed April 25, 2012
Google reveals optimistic tablet goals
The tail end of Google mobile VP Andy Rubin's testimony on Android's revenue potential has revealed that the company made broad presumptions about how well Android tablets would fare in the market place. The projections seen by The Verge had Android tablets claiming 10 million shipments out of an estimated 30 million in 2011, or 33 percent share. It had thought that its share would go down in 2012, to 22 percent, but mostly as the market would be getting larger while Android sales stayed flat.
Third-party estimates of actual results have varied, but have typically shown that Android only came near meeting Google's predictions in the fall, after the Amazon Kindle Fire's loss-leading $199 price fueled a sudden spike. Its share for the rest of 2011 was considerably lower, as companies like Motorola in many cases had shipped a million or fewer tablets all year.
The motivations behind the belief weren't illustrated, but may have come from a presumption that a rapidly burgeoning success in Android smartphones would automatically translate to tablets. Many of the factors that worked in Google's favor for smartphones have worked against it or failed to materialize in tablets, with many Android tablets often locked to carrier deals that customers actively shunned, priced at premiums above equivalent iPads, or both. Until the very end of 2011, most hardware didn't have a clear hardware advantage, and every tablet designer was hit by a lack of tablet-native apps.
Its guesses also conspicuously underestimated the number of tablets shipping each year. The 2011 total crested 40 million, and a consensus is for more than 60 million in 2012. Whether or not Android fares well could depend on whether the Kindle Fire can sustain interest and whether a shift to low-end tablets leads to more share or just lower revenue.