iSuppli forecasts that the iPad will continue to be the dominant device for years to come with no viable competitor until at least 2011. This means that even with old-fashioned tablet PCs and several new rival ones launching at the end of 2010, the iPad will still account for 74.1 percent of global tablet shipments this year.
That is still a drop from the near 100 percent market share that Acer chairman J.T. Wang commented on recently, but it’s nowhere near the estimated 70 to 80 percent drop he predicted. In fact, for it to drop so significantly a long period of time would need to pass or a surprise rival would need to enter the market, as iSuppli predicts a much slower loss of market share.
In 2011, when the first real competitors enter the arena, Apple’s share is expected to drop to 70.4 percent. 2012 will see a further drop to 61.7 percent as more tablets flood the market. While iSuppli has not forecast beyond 2012, we can probably expect at least another 10 percent drop in 2013 and subsequent years as cheaper alternatives to the iPad become more widely available.
iSuppli cites the history of the iPhone as one of the factors in its research, stating that it took nearly three years for competitors to really make a dent. However, it said that the competition eventually offered “truly differentiated and superior” devices, citing the Motorola Droid and HTC Evo 4G in particular, both of which launched 29 months and 36 months after the original iPhone respectively.
It’s not surprising then that it may take Apple’s rivals a few years to end its dominance in the tablet market, but a key difference now is that a rival OS is already available, Google’s Android, which was not really available for mobiles until 2009.
Since Android has been tried and tested, and with rumours that the 3.0 update will be more tablet-friendly, the pace at which the competition ups the ante against Apple should quicken.
iSuppli, however, believes that Apple will still have the upper hand, particularly with its “complete integration of hardware, software, operating system and applications.” It said that while competitors such as Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung, among others, will produce tablets with higher technical specifications, they will lack the “overall performance experience” of the iPad. We reckon BaDa could give it a surprise run for its money.
In particular it cited Apple’s App Store as one of the pivotal features that rivals will need to address, particularly considering app developers will need to cater for different resolutions on the multitude of rival devices.
“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.”
With so many different predictions about the iPad and how long its glory days will last, it seems that no one really knows how it all will pan out.