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Global Tablet Sales To Hit 63.3M: Gartner

10/03/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

EGHAM, U.K. – Worldwide tablet PC sales will
tally 63.3 million units in 2011, with Apple owning
73.4 percent of the market, according to a Gartner
report.

The 63.3 million units represent a 261 percent
increase over 2010 sales, and the growth rate
will continue to climb at least through 2015 when
326.3 million units are sold.

Apple is expected to retain its leadership position
in the tablet market (Gartner prefers to call
tablet PCs media tablets); however, devices supporting
the Android OS will grow significantly, but
still lag behind Apple. Gartner does not expect
products supporting any other OS to garner more
than 5 percent of the market during this period.

One reason Gartner gave for Apple’s expected
continued success is how that company is
able to fully integrate the iPad into its overall
product line. This not only delivers a unified performance,
but has enabled the company to better
manage its supply chain, which has helped
keep iPad prices down.

Google’s Android does have a chance to counter
Apple’s position.

“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market
has been constrained by high prices, weak user
interface and limited tablet applications” Carolina
Milanesi, research VP at Gartner, said. “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. Android can count on strong support
from key OEMs, has a sizeable developer community,
and its smartphone application ecosystem
is second only to Apple’s.”

Gartner did point out that Research In Motion’s
WebOS QNX operating system does show some
promise, but it is too early to tell what impact it will
have on the market — particularly considering the
company’s smartphone business is under a great
deal of pressure at the present time.

The research firm was also unsure the impact
Windows 8 would have on the tablet market. Microsoft’s
late arrival in the tablet space means
it will have to fight against an even further entrenched
Apple and Android. There is a chance
Microsoft will find a niche in the enterprise space
where corporations will want a Windows-powered
tablet that will integrate into their current
systems, Gartner said.