We've been talking a fair bit lately about whether Android Ice Cream Sandwich is marking a subtle shift in policy for Google towards favouring smartphones, where Android has been a hands-down success, over tablets, where it hasn't.
So what better time for the latest global tablet sales stats to come along for our delectation? So strap on your abacus and let's have a closer look.
Strategy Analytics latest global tablet shipment figures have just emerged for Q3 2011, and have been published along with the same figures for Q3 2010 for some nice side-by-side comparison.
Overall, the market itself has grown by 280%, with shipments jumping from 4.4 million over the third quarter last year to 16.7 million this year.
And it'll come as no surprise at all that the Apple iPad remains the dominant market leader, jumping from 4.2 million to 11.1 million units shipped. The biggest change in the past 12 months comes in that its near-monopoly over the market has eased, with its share dropping from 95.5% a year ago to 66.6% now.
Unsurprisingly the figures show that Android has taken up most of that slack, and now holds a 26.9% market share after shipping 4.5 million units over the quarter.
Or does it? You'll notice we continually use the word “shipping” there, as these aren't actual sales figures, but rather just the number of tablets that have been shipped to retailers and networks.
And when you consider the general undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the sales performance of nearly all Android tablets we've seen so far, it's a fairly safe bet that there are an awful lot more unsold Android tablets out there than there are iPad 2s.
Instead all these numbers prove is that Android's share of the tablet market is at the very most 26.9%. Our own estimate would probably come in at not much more than half that figure.