Apple Computer Inc.’s iPad is expected to command nearly 74 percent of worldwide media tablet sales in 2011, shedding more than 10 percent of its share from the previous year but forecast to still hold on to at least half of the market until 2014, according to researcher Gartner Inc.
The researcher predicts worldwide media tablet sales to end users will total about 64 million units by the end of 2011 for a 261 percent spike from the 17.6 million units recorded last year. Gartner forecasts tablet sales will reach more than 326 million units by 2015.
No vendor operating platform other than Apple’s iOS and Google Inc.’s Android is forecast to garner more than 5 percent of the tablet market in 2011, Gartner said.
Gartner issued its tablet data in a special report entitled, “iPad and Beyond: The Future of the Tablet Market.”
“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” said Carolina Milanesi, Gartner research vice president.
“Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal,” she said.
According to Gartner’s figures, Android-based tablets will account for some 11 million units in 2011 or slightly more than 17 percent of sales for a minimal gain over last year’s share. The researcher said that it has lowered its forecast for Android operating system sales by 28 percent from last quarter’s projections.
“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications,” Milanesi said.
She said that the next version of the Android OS is expected to address the “fragmentation of Android across smartphone and tablet form factors.”
Gartner said that Research In Motion Inc.’s QNX OS holds promise but it is too early to tell if it will attract the necessary support from application developers to gain traction in the market. Questions about Windows 8’s limited appeal to consumers may retard its growth in the segment, the researcher said.
For the foreseeable future, Apple’s lead in the tablet market will be difficult to challenge, Milanesi said.
“Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen,” said Milanesi. “This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options,” she said.
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