Apple’s iPad is losing ground to Google Android, according to new data by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group. The organizations surveyed 1,069 tablet owners and found that 52 percent owned an iPad, while 48 percent opted for a Google Android tablet. Some 21 percent of total respondents chose a Kindle Fire, making it the winner among Android devices, followed by the Samsung Galaxy with 8 percent. That’s a significant change from 2011, when the survey (which encompassed 1,196 individuals) found 81 percent of tablet owners selecting an iPad, followed by 15 percent for Android and 4 percent for “other.” The 2012 survey was taken before Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD made their respective debuts; both of those Android devices enjoyed significant buzz in conjunction with their unveilings, and could enjoy sales significant enough to affect the overall tablet market. “Among those who have both a tablet and smartphone, there is some operating system loyalty,” read a note accompanying this year’s survey results. “A majority of iPad owners who also have smartphones have an iPhone (57 percent); just 32 percent have an Android phone. Similarly, 66 percent of those who have an Android tablet have an Android phone; 29 percent have an iPhone.” The rate of tablet ownership is also on the rise: some 68 percent of respondents indicated their tablet purchase came within the last 12 months. Apple and the various Android manufacturers face significant competition this holiday season from Microsoft and its hardware partners, which are gearing up to release Windows 8 on a variety of tablets. Rumors suggest that Apple will unveil an “iPad Mini” Oct. 17, just ahead of the Windows 8 launch. Although Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously denigrated smaller tablets as unworthy of users or developers, rivals such as Amazon and Google have enjoyed a measure of success in the 7-inch tablet category, which may drive Apple to some sort of response.   Image: Pew Research Center/The Economist Group