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Tablet market turning into ‘three-horse race”

Despite the appeal of the iPhone, a new study suggests Android devices may be too sweet for some consumers and businesses to turn down.

Despite the appeal of the iPhone, a new study suggests Android devices may be too sweet for some consumers and businesses to turn down.

Many analysts and researchers say that the iPad is the most widely-used tablet computer on the market today. Point for iOS. On the other hand, a recent report from Strategy Analytics has Google's operating system accounting for 41 percent of worldwide tablet shipments, up 12 percent from the previous year. Point for Android.

Conversely, the study shows that global tablet shipments reached 25 million units in the third quarter of 2012, and 57 percent of them were running iOS – in other words, the iPad. But, that number is down from 64 percent last year.

"In the near term, Apple should still stay ahead," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told the ZDNet. "The iPad mini will give it a further [push] in Q4 and Q1. But it's clear that the Android community is ramping up its activities quite heavily."

He added that the tablet market was a "one-horse race" in 2010 because the iPad was the market. But, with Android closing the gap and Microsoft's Surface tablets hitting store shelves, it will turn into a "three-horse race" in 2013.

What small and midsize businesses should take away from this is that there are several factors worth considering before deciding on a tablet strategy. First off, do they already have a smartphone OS chosen and deployed, and if so, would they be willing to switch if their choice of tablet doesn't coincide with existing IT assets?

The operating systems need to be closely examined as well. Decision-makers need to understand the mobile environment and what it means for third-party application support and custom app design options. Apple offers device and OS uniformity, while Android is supported by multiple manufacturers, widening the hardware options available. These and a bevy of other items must be looked at.

Small business IT support is about helping companies with limited resources make the right decisions to help them achieve success in highly competitive markets.