Gartner predicts continued iPad dominance for 2011

Android tablets have been slower on the uptake than the research firm figured
Adam Smith
Adam Smith -

iPad 2

Analyst firm Gartner has produced a new piece of research which focuses on the near future of the tablet market.

And the rather unsurprising headline fact is that the iPad is expected to continue its domination. However, some folks had expected Apple’s tablet market share to slip a little more than Gartner is predicting.

The analyst outfit estimates global tablet sales for 2011 – that’s sales to end users, not shipments which some forecasts have been based on – will reach almost 64 million units this year, up 260% on 2010′s 17.6 million.

And of those 2011 sales, the iPad is expected to secure 73.4%, which is only a drop of 10% from last year’s figure of 83%. Considering the amount of Android devices which have emerged this year – plus other alternatives such as Rim’s PlayBook – that’s an encouraging result for Apple.

Android is expected to secure the majority of the rest of the market with a 17% share, with the QNX-powered PlayBook and flogged off end-of-line webOS TouchPad representing the remaining just under 10% between them.

Of course, there are so many Android tablets that there certainly isn’t one clear rival to the iPad. Not yet anyway – Amazon may change that next year.

However, Gartner has been surprised by the lack of pace of adoption of Android tablets, and has downgraded its projections for Google’s OS, despite the Amazon slate being imminent and sure to impact next year’s sales.

In 2012, the analyst firm estimates Android’s share will only increase to 22% of the market, with the iPad still holding two-thirds of the market captive.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, commented: “We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014.”

“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.”

Our understanding is that this what Amazon is aiming for – a custom UI with integrated Cloud Player, App Store, Kindle for e-reading and so forth – at a budget price tag under-cutting the iPad considerably.

That’s likely to ensure a single serious rival to the iPad, with the Amazon brand behind the tablet, and shipping in plentiful quantities if rumours from far east manufacturers are to be believed.

Of course, we won’t know until Amazon actually gets its tablet out of the door, sometime later in the autumn.

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