Apple iPad to Dominate Holiday Season Tablet Sales: Gartner Report

By Nathan Eddy

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."


This article was originally published on 2011-09-23