Despite rising competition from the likes of Android, Apple's iOS-based iPad will continue to lead the tablet market on into 2015, according to a report out today by Gartner.
Looking at the tablet market by operating system, Gartner pegged Apple's share at 84 percent last year and is forecasting 69 percent this year. Though Apple's dominance may ebb over the next few years, it will still maintain its lead, with 63 percent of all tablets sold next year and 47 percent in 2015, according to the market researcher.
Amid any decline in market share, unit sales of the iPad will continue to grow, rising from 14.7 million last year to 47.9 million this year and 138 million in 2015, Gartner projects.
Tablets running Google's Android OS won't overtake the iPad, but they will increase their share of the market from 20 percent this year to 39 percent in 2015, according to the report.
Google's decision not to open up the source code from its Android 3.0 Honeycomb to third parties should help stem the platform's fragmentation, says Gartner, but it may also keep tablet prices from dropping fast enough, eventually limiting Android's market share.
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Eyeing other tablet operating systems, Gartner sees slow going for QNX, the OS used by Research In Motion for its upcoming BlackBerry Playbook tablet. The report gives kudos to QNX as a "strong platform that delivers on performance, graphics, and multitasking features," but says it will take time and effort for RIM to bring developers on board and deliver the right apps and services to offer an alternative to Apple or Android.
Gartner is projecting growth in the market share of QNX to 10 percent in 2015 from 5.6 this year but believes the audience may be limited.
"It will be mainly organizations that will be interested in RIM's tablets because they either already have RIM's infrastructure deployed or have stringent security requirements," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.
Overall, tablet makers are going down the wrong path when they focus more on hardware than on the user environment, believes Gartner.
"Many [vendors] are making the same mistake that was made in the first response wave to the iPhone, as they are prioritizing hardware features over applications, services, and overall user experience," Milanesi said. "Tablets will be much more dependent on the latter than smartphones have been, and the sooner vendors realize that, the better chance they have to compete head-to-head with Apple."