iPad beware: Android tablets gain foothold in higher education


“We applaud the university for adopting new technologies and not being afraid to take a different route in educating their students,” Joe Sirianni, a writer for the Talk Android blog, wrote in an Aug. 24 post. “Notice how they’re not using iPads? … Looks like someone is serious about educating their students and making their staff a heck of a lot more productive.”

While Seton Hall’s embrace of the Android mobile 3.1 operating system hasn’t drawn headlines extolling the forward thinking of the school’s technology leaders—as happened during iPad rollouts in 2009 and 2010—adoption of Android tablets in higher education ties into market predictions published in April.

After changing the tablet market the way the Apple iPhone “reinvented” the smart-phone market, the iPad and its iOS—Apple’s operating system—account for almost 70 percent of media tablets, while Android-based tablets account for 20 percent of the market, according to Gartner, an IT market research firm.

Google’s Android OS, however, will see steady growth over the next four years. By 2015, Google will own 39 percent of the tablet market, compared to the iPad’s 47 percent, Gartner predicts.

Yet growth of the Android OS will be “capped,” according to Gartner, because Google officials decided not to open its OS—known as Honeycomb—to third parties, meaning the price of Android tablets will decline more slowly than the iPad.

More than 47 million iPads will be sold in 2011, a number that will skyrocket to 138 million in 2015, according to the report. Nearly 14 million Android-based tablets will hit the market this year. That figure is expected to jump to 113 million.

Gartner analysts predicted that customers would gravitate to tablets made by the same companies as their smart phones. On college campuses, where students with web-enabled phones favor the iPhone, this could give Apple an advantage.