There is a war against the iPad. The embarrassment of the industry is the fact that there is still no viable competition for the iPad after all these years. No matter what gets introduced at shows like CES and MWC, people just go on buying iPads. A few, Android loving pundits carry the N7, but that's about it. Companies have tried including more specs for the same money, including the same specs for less money, and including more specs for less money and negative profit. It doesn't matter. The iPad is still the only tablet that matters, and that's a major problem for everyone else. 

The war has moved from manufacturing to manufactured triumphs. What can't be won at the cash register and in the hearts and minds of consumers must be won in the news papers and analyst reports. We now have analyst reports that say the iPad is losing to Android tablets. Reports lead to headlines. In the battle of the headlines, the iPad has become small minority of the tablet market. But like analyst reports, headlines lie

Gartner ignores Apple's sales numbers, reports Android marketshare doubled iPad in 2013

The most glaring inconsistency is a disconnect between Gartner's 70.4 million iPad sales and Apple's self-reported 74 million unit sales for 2013. From the first quarter — Apple's second fiscal quarter — to the fourth, the company reported iPad sales of 19.5 million, 14.6 million, 14.1 million and 26 million, respectively. The total: 74.2 million iPads sold during 2013.

Barring the fact that Apple's sales figures are regulated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Gartner's results are not off by a trivial amount, but a huge 3.8 million units. Thought of in another way, the discrepancy, if applied to No. 3 Microsoft's sales, would almost completely wipe out the Surface maker's performance for 2013...

In its vendor breakdown, seen above, Gartner once again includes the "Other" category dominated by so-called "white box," or unbranded devices. Compared to last year's 30.1 million sales, "Other" manufacturers racked up 60.7 million unit sales in 2013. To offer some perspective, the number is larger than the recorded sales for the list's second, third and fourth place OEMs combined.


Everything about this spreadsheet is a lie. Apple reports their sales. Gartner ignored those reported numbers and replaced them with a smaller total than what Apple reported. Before you get to that lie, the category is marked sales instead of estimated shipments. We know that these are not actually sales numbers because Apple is the only company that provides actual sales numbers, and those were ignored. The rest of the numbers are only shipment estimates. 

Since manufacturers know that their rankings depend on shipments rather than sales, all they have to do to gain greater market share is ship more products. They don't even have to sell them. Samsung quadrupled their shipment numbers in 2013. We know that doesn't correspond to sales because we would have heard from Samsung by now. They are not selling four times more tablets. They are just building more. What they gain is positive headlines, and a better share of the marketshare sweepstakes. Lenovo played the same game, while Asus doubled their shipments. This is how marketshare sweepstakes is played. 

Though only doubling their estimated shipment numbers, the biggest winner is "other". Who is this masked manufacturer known only as "other"? It is so powerful, it has the ability to do time travel. No joke. Last year, analysts retroactively changed their numbers to reflect the invisible growth of "other". Remember back when the iPad was over 70% of the market? The way they were suddenly bumped down to 60% was that "other" was retroactively inflated to mysteriously account for more non-iPad shipments. 

Today, "other" is just shy of equaling all Android manufacturers combined. "Other" is second only to the iPad. Next year, it will be the largest category on the chart. You don't have to be an accountant to know that there is something wrong with any chart where "other" is larger than all named categories. "Other" is shorthand for everything we do not know. It is the cushion for errors and lies that go unchallenged. When "other" represents half the numbers on a chart, we are beyond errors. It is just hiding a really big lie.

It represents tablets that have no name, pay no import taxes, have no manufacturer that can be tracked, and cost no money. They leave no paper trail. No amount of detective work can turn up any relevant information about them. No country claims them, and no consumers admit to owning them. They have no customer satisfaction scores, no environmental ratings, and no retail partnerships. They are overseen by no regulatory bodies. Neither the FCC nor the Securities and Exchange Commission have ever heard of them. These are the only Android tablets selling in competitive numbers. It is not iPad vs. Android. It is iPad vs. "other".

If you get rid of "other", adjust the rest of the numbers to last year's inflated shipment estimates, before quadrupling shipment estimates became the norm, and use actual numbers provided by Apple, you have them nearer to 81%. Is that number accurate? No. But it is more accurate than the one Gartner is attempting to shove down our throats. 

I actually think the real number is bigger, much bigger. If tablets were categorized in an intellectually honest manner, we would be talking about tablets above, say, $400 where the iPad lives. That number is much nearer to 100% of the market. Most tablets, even full-sized tablets, do not play in the same pricing sandpit as the iPad mini with Retina display. Budget tablets are not even in the same playground. Tablets manufactured by "other" run about $49, if that. It is like comparing the marketshare of a fine china company to the total number of paper plates sold worldwide. Worse, it is inflating the actual number of paper plates. It is a lie. 

The iPad is not 36% of the tablet market. It is near 100% of the tablet market that matters. I suspect the vast majority of Android tablets do not have Google Play, or run google services. Android is just an embedded OS. Google doesn't even count them. That should tell you all you need to know about those tablets. Just remember, it is not iPad vs. Android. It is iPad vs. "other". "Other" can take on whatever form analysts need it to take.

David Johnson