iPad's dominance in tablets to continue for years, Gartner says

Android devices will reach 35% of tablet sales in 2015

Apple created the modern tablet market, and its iPad has become the undisputed king of tablet computers. The iPad promises to hold that dominance for years to come, research firm Gartner said Thursday.

Apple's iPad will command 73.4% of global tablet sales in 2011 and will hold the majority of tablet sales until 2014, Gartner said.

In 2015, Apple will still dominate over Android and other tablets, representing 46% of the market. In that year, however, Android tablets and even some from Microsoft and Research in Motion will gain ground, Gartner said.

Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi said Apple does so well because it "delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. ... 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. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and [with] no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options."

By comparison, Android tablets will account for 17.3% of sales in 2011, Gartner said, while any other platform will have no more than 5%.

Overall in 2011, tablet computer sales globally will top 63 million devices, an increase of 261% over last year, Gartner said.

By the end of 2015, tablet sales will reach 326 million devices, Gartner predicted.

As expected, the iPad will have the overwhelming majority of 2011 tablet sales, with 73.4%, or nearly 46.7 million total. Android's total in 2011 will be 17.3%, or 11 million.

In 2015, Gartner said, Android will grow to 116 million tablet sales, compared to 148 million for Apple.

Also in 2015, Microsoft tablets and Research in Motion's QNX-based tablet will be sizable market forces. Microsoft is expected to sell 34 million units in 2015, while RIM will sell 26 million units of its QNX tablet, Gartner said.

For 2015, Gartner's forecasts give Apple 46% of the tablet market, followed by Android devices at 35%, Microsoft at 11% and QNX at 8%.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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