iSuppli: All Hail the iPad, Supreme Tablet Leader Through 2012

Paul Lilly

You already know there's a trillion or so tablets on the horizon -- even your technology hating neighbor is planning to launch a slate -- but none of them will threaten the iPad's dominance in the market, at least not through 2012, market research firm iSuppli boldly predicts.

"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."

According to iSuppli, Apple's magical slate won't be performing a disappearing trick anytime soon, and instead will account for nearly three-fourths of the global tablet market by the time 2010 comes to a close. That number will only drop to 70.4 percent in 2011, and through 2012, iSuppli predicts whatever version of the iPad exists by then will claim 61.7 percent of the tablet space.

"Companies are quickly developing products that match or exceed some of the surface hardware specifications of the Apple iPad," Alexander said. "But it's still unlikely that any of the competitors will be able to equal the overall performance experience of the iPad. Apple's complete integration of hardware, software, operating system and applications is a major piece of what makes the device a standout. 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.

Alexander points to HP as the biggest near-term threat to Apple's grip in tablet market share. HP's acquisition of Palm and subsequent access to the webOS platform puts HP on solid ground to go up against the iPad, as will the company's experience in building PC products. Still, it will be at least 2011 before HP has a shipping tablet to go up against Apple's slate, and by then, Apple will be gearing up to release another iPad, presumably one that will address some of the current gen product's well documented shortcomings, like a lack of webcams, USB ports, and a memory card slot.

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