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Summary:

The counterpoint to last week’s data from Gartner that spelled out near and long-term victory for Android: in tablets, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) ru…

iPad 2 - 1
photo: Tom Krazit

The counterpoint to last week’s data from Gartner that spelled out near and long-term victory for Android: in tablets, Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) rules today, tomorrow, and next week.

Although there has been a rush of tablets running Android, iOS is still poised to retain nearly 69 percent of the tablet market in 2011.

That figure is down some 15 percent from Apple’s 2010 share of around 84 percent, but in 2012, Apple’s share will go down only by five points to 63.5 percent, project the analysts. And by 2015, even though other competitors will eat into that share even more, Apple will still be the biggest player in tablets, with a 47 percent share of the “media tablet” market — that is, devices with touchscreen interfaces are mainly designed for media consumption.

Why is Android dominating more in handsets than it is in tablets? One issue that comes up is the recent move by Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to control the tablet-intended Honeycomb OS source code more carefully than it has controlled previous iterations of Android.

That is having a knock-on effect in terms of how many Honeycomb-based tablet models get produced, and that, says Gartner, is keeping both Android tablet volumes and average selling prices in check.

Sounds like a fair-enough conclusion, if you take as your starting point Gartner’s prognosis on smartphones: in mobile handsets Gartner believes the sheer number of Android models, and subsequent cheap prices, will keep Android as the dominating smartphone OS.

But that doesn’t give a good enough explanation for why the Android/Honeycomb devices that are due out this year (and counting the Xoom that is shipping already), which are priced close to the iPad and have comparable and sometimes better specs, aren’t providing more competition against the iPad — especially since Gartner also thinks that people will be interested in getting tablets using the same OS as their handsets, and Android, it believes, will dominate in the latter category.

Apple’s continuing success could be partly due to the content ecosystem around Android devices: Android/Honeycomb-optimised apps in the market have been estimated at anywhere between 50 and 100, compared to iPad’s 65,000 (the number released by Steve Jobs in March). Another major issue, also not covered, is the fact that perhaps Apple is still winning in the user experience stakes.

Ultimately, if this sounds like it’s an exclusively Google and Apple story, that’s because it pretty much is, according to Gartner. The RIM-made Playbook seems to be the only one of the lot of others that even comes within striking distance in terms of market share by 2015, with a 10 percent share of the market. Next biggest is HP’s WebOS with a measly three percent. Those are tough numbers for devices that haven’t even gone on sale yet.

Report available here.

  1. synthmeister Monday, April 11, 2011

    As far as ecosystem goes, you nailed it more than you realize. Look at the revenue numbers: In 2010, Android app revenue grew from $11 million to $102 million, over 800% growth. That sounds great until you realize that the totally irrelevant RIM and Ovi app stores each made more money than the Google app store in 2010. Given Android’s huge marketshare numbers, $102 million is kind of pitiful. Meanwhile revenue at the Apple app store grew from over $700 million to over $1.7 billion, eleven times the size of Google’s app store growth in real dollars.

    Apple’s app store has a huge advantage because it is serving a three-pronged hardware strategy: the iPhone, the iPod touch and the iPad, each of which appeals to different markets and users and applications. While Android phones have exploded, Google has no credible answers to the iPad yet, and is not even trying to fight the iPod touch.

    And btw, the AppleTV is only two or three baby-steps away from being a fourth app-store iDevice.

    What I don’t understand about the Gartner projections is that the iPad could suddenly drop from over 60% to less than 48% after three years of domination. That simply will not happen because if the iPad has two more years of domination it will be exponentially more difficult for anyone else to break into the market. Android (and RIM and HP and Windows) need their slates (and apps and peripherals and massive retail distribution) on the market NOW in order to stop iPad domination for the next decade. If they think they can wait two or three years, they’ll simply be fighting for the scraps.

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  2. As an iPad and PC owner I can offer one simple reason for the success of the former. It works smoothly and quickly, with little to no waiting for programs to load.
    I would submit than any device that offers the near instant response of the iPad (particularly in the touch screen segment) will succeed, those that insist on making operators wait, will not.

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  3. I am using one now to comment, and frankly it is a piece of crap. The virtual keyboArd is spasmodic, email doesn’t load, ?passwords appear letter by letter as you type them and are then one by one each rep,a ec by a bullet so that anyone standing o er you can write down each letter or number in sequence and when you look up from your virtual keypad –all you see are the fresh bullets, unsuspecting that you just typed out the passwords to your bank account andemail for anyone looking over your shoulder. You cannot placed th curdorwhere you want so to edit the entire senten e or even paragraph has Ito be deleted just to get back to where you were. Also, if I wanted callouses on my finger pads –and they do get sore after a. hour– I would ha e taken guitar lessons.

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  4. From newborn kids to silver haired surfers, we all love the Apple user experience, the apps, the stores, the staff, the pre sales and after sales, the simplicity of design, the no-fuss easy-to-get-your-head-round product range.. and lots more bit.ly/eELbtH

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