Apple has tablet market wrapped up this holiday season – Gartner

23 Sep 2011

Apple's iPad 2, with covers

Worldwide media tablet sales are on track to reach 63.6m units, a 261.4pc increase from 2010 sales of 17.6m units, according to Gartner, Inc.

Media tablet sales will continue to experience strong growth through 2015, when sales are forecast to reach 326.3m units.

Apple’s iPad is projected to account for 73.4pc of worldwide media tablet sales in 2011, down from 83pc share in 2010.

Beyond Apple iOS and the Android operating system (OS), Gartner does not expect any other platforms to have more than 5pc share of the tablet market in 2011.

“We expect Apple to maintain a marketshare lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50pc 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. 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,” Milanesi added.

Android tablets are on pace to ship 11m units in 2011 (see Table 1 below), accounting for 17.3pc of media tablet sales. This is up only slightly from Android’s 2010 market share of 14.3pc.

Gartner’s forecast for the Android OS has been lowered by 28pc from last quarter’s projection. 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.

“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.”

Table 1
Worldwide Sales of Media Tablets to End Users by OS (Thousands of Units)

 OS 2010 2011 2012 2015
Android 2,512 11,020 22,875 116,444
iOS 14,685 46,697 69,025 148,674
MeeGo 179 476 490 197
Microsoft 0 0 4,348 34,435
QNX 0 3,016 6,274 26,123
WebOS 0 2,053 0 0
Other Operating Systems 235 375 467 431
Total Market 17,610 63,637 103,479 326,304

Source: Gartner (September 2011)