Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

Apple’s best-selling iPad
will account for 73.4 percent of worldwide media tablet sales in 2011, down
from 83 percent share in 2010, according projections from Gartner. The market research
firm also noted Apple will have free reign in the tablet market during the
lucrative holiday season, as competition from Google Android-based tablet
devices and others lags behind.

Worldwide media tablet sales
to end users are on pace to total 63.6 million units, a 261.4 percent increase
from 2010 sales of 17.6 million units, according Gartner. Additionally, media
tablet sales will continue to experience strong growth through 2015 when sales
are forecast to reach 326.3 million units. Beyond Apple iOS and the Android
operating system, Gartner does not expect any other platforms to have more than
a 5 percent share of the tablet market in 2011.

Android tablets are on pace
to ship 11 million units in 2011, accounting for 17.3 percent of media tablet
sales, Gartner said. This is up slightly from Android’s 2010 market share of
14.3 percent. Gartner lowered its forecast for the Android OS by 28 percent
from last quarter’s projection, and the company noted the reduction would have
been greater had it not been for the success of lower-end tablets in Asia, and
the expectations around the launch of Amazon’s tablet.

"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,
research vice president at Gartner. "This is because Apple delivers a
superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and
services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to
Apple’s position will be minimal.

"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," she continued. "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."

Gartner analysts said
Research In Motion’s QNX OS is a promising platform, but it is still in the
early stages of development. RIM’s main challenge will be to attract more
support from application developers as the company is going through a tough
period, with considerable pressure on its smartphone business. As more vendors arrive
in 2012, it’s important they concentrate on delivering a rich user experience
based on a strong tie between smartphones and tablets, a good set of applications,
an intuitive user interface and the ability to share content easily between
devices, Gartner analysts said.

"So far, Android’s
appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user
interface and limited tablet applications" Milanesi said. "Google
will address the fragmentation of Android across smartphone and tablet form
factors within the next Android release, known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich,’ which
we expect to see in the fourth quarter of 2011. Android can count on strong
support from key OEMs, has a sizeable developer community and its smartphones
application ecosystem is second only to Apple’s."