iPad: Android, Other Competitors Still Way Behind

Expect to see Apples iPad dominate sales in the tablet space through the holiday season.

Thats the finding in new research from Gartner, which says the iPad will account for nearly three-quarters (73.4 percent) of tablet sales worldwide in 2011. Despite the proliferation of new Android-based devices, an offering from BlackBerry and more this year, thats down only a little from 2010, when the iPad had 83 percent market share.

No other platforms will earn more than 5 percent share this year, Gartner says. In fact, Apple is set to dominate for several years.

We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” 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 Apples position will be minimal.”

The researcher lauds Apple for its foresight in the tablet space and its ability to offer the iPad for a competitive price from the outset.

Gartner calls Research In Motions upcoming operating system, QNX, promising,” but very early in development to be considered a factor. And Microsofts still-to-come Windows 8 platform may have success in the enterprise market, but could arrive too late to have a significant impact among general consumers.

Most of Apple’s competitors are struggling to meet Apple’s prices without considerably sacrificing margins. Screen quality and processing power are the two hardware features that vendors cannot afford to compromise on,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. They should consider everything else nice to have, rather than essential, in order to keep bills-of-materials costs competitive with those of the iPad.”

Overall, when all of the numbers for 2011 come in, Gartner expects more than 63 million tablets will have been sold worldwide, up from less than 18 million in 2010. By 2015, the firm expects sales will rise to more than 300 million.

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