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 â€˜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.