The iPad is unlikely to come up against a viable tablet-based competitor until 2011, and will maintain this lead until at least 2012, according to a report from iSuppli.
The market research group predicts that the iPad will represent 74.1pc of global tablet shipments in 2010, with the remainder accounting for a mixture of older PC-type tablets and slates.
While a number of competitors will emerge in 2011, Apple will keep a 70.4pc share of the market.
iSuppli predicts that the iPad will still have the majority share of the market in 2012, at 61.7pc. The rate it drops at will be due to the developing competition between newer tablets.
“Although the iPad has been on the market for only a few months, powerful interests throughout the technology business are devoting enormous resources to challenge and topple Apple’s domination in this fast-growing marketplace,” said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli.
“However, if recent history is any lesson, it will take some time for these companies to get their products to market, longer for them to offer necessary software support and infrastructure, and an even lengthier period to begin to rival the overall user experience Apple is able to deliver.”
While the research firm notes that potential iPad competitors exist in the form of HP, Dell and Lenovo’s upcoming tablets, they believe that none of them can seriously challenge Apple’s tablet from a solution perspective.
“Companies are quickly developing products that match or exceed some of the surface hardware specifications of the Apple iPad,” Alexander said.
“But it’s still unlikely that any of the competitors will be able to equal the overall performance experience of the iPad.
“Apple’s complete integration of hardware, software, operating system and applications is a major piece of what makes the device a standout. And on that basis—an integrated hardware/software design—we don’t see anything in the marketplace at present that seems likely to rival what Apple is offering in tablets today,” said Alexander.
However, iSuppli observes that the most interesting near-term competitor is likely to come from HP, due to its experience in building PC-level hardware and its access to Palm’s WebOS. Regardless, they still believe HP won’t be able to create a viable challenge to the iPad before 2011.
The research group also doesn’t believe that Google will create a Chrome OS tablet until 2011 or later, in spite of rumours claiming that they will release one on November 26th of this year.
iSuppli has seen that iPad’s level of apps could also be a struggle for competitors to come up against.
“Competitors face some serious obstacles in their efforts to match the total iPad package, most notably competing with the growing suite of iPad-specific applications,” Alexander said.
“Apple’s interface and many of its applications are geared to the pixels per inch (ppi) and screen configuration of the iPad, optimising their appearance on that device.
“Developers designing applications to work across the broader base of new offerings from the various competitors are facing a mix of pixel densities, screen sizes, and touch technologies,” said Alexander.
The forecast was based on the iPhone’s market history. Apple’s phone was followed by numerous competing products, such as the Samsung F700, the UTStarcom XV6800 and the Palm Pre.
However, iSuppli states that it took three years for competitors’ phones, such as the Motorola Droid and the HTC Eva 4G, to not only stand up alongside the iPhone, but could be superior to it in certain respects.