iPad losing market share with increased competition — Gartner

Apple’s iPad is projected to account for 73.4% of worldwide media tablet sales in 2011, down from 83% share in 2010, says respected research company Gartner.

But beyond Apple’s platform, known as iOS, and Android’s operating system, Gartner does not expect any other platforms to secure more than a five percent share of the tablet market in 2011.

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“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50% of the market until 2014,” says 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.”

Outside of Apple’s iPad, only Android tablets, such as Galaxy Tabs, are expected to make any dent in the market, possibly claiming five percent by the end of 2011. With worldwide tablet sales expected to reach more than 63.6-million by the end of 2011 and 326.3-million by the end of 2015, the market for tablets is booming.

“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications. 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,” says Milanesi.

“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.”

Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner notes that most of Apple’s competitors are struggling to meet the the Cupertino-based company’s prices without considerably sacrificing margins.

“Screen quality and processing power are the two hardware features that vendors cannot afford to compromise on. 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,” he says.

The full report can downloaded (for a steep price) here.

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