Apple's reign as king of the tablet market should stay strong for at least the next couple of years, says a new report from iSuppli.
Though a variety of tech players have been cooking up their own tablet devices, no true competitor is likely to surface until next year, giving Apple a dominant share of the market through 2012 if not further, according to iSuppli.
This year, the iPad is expected to account for 74.1 percent of all global tablet shipments, with the remaining percentage left mostly to an assortment of older PC-style tablets. Next year, it will account for 70.4 percent of worldwide tablet shipments. In 2012, that figure will drop to a still-leading 61.7 percent as more tablet makers race to hit the market and struggle to compete with Apple, iSuppli said. But those rivals will have their work cut out for them.
"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," Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli, said in a statement. "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."
"Apple's complete integration of hardware, software, operating system, and applications is a major piece of what makes the device a standout," Alexander said. "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."
Among future rivals, only HP seems to pose the most interesting potential competition to Apple, according to Alexander, citing HP's experience in creating PC-type devices and its new ownership of Palm's WebOS. But any HP tablet won't launch until next year and may encompass multiple products, such as one for the consumer market and another for the enterprise arena.
To gauge how long the iPad may control its market, iSuppli looked at another hot Apple product, namely the iPhone. Following its debut in 2007, the iPhone has remained near the top of the smartphone market. Though rivals have launched competing phones, few of them have matched the allure and popularity of the iPhone. It wasn't until more recently that a select group of phones, such as the Motorola Droid and the HTC Evo 4G, have been able to equal and even outshine the iPhone in certain features, according to iSuppli.