The bean counters at Gartner have published their predictions for where the tablet market is heading. Before we look ahead though, let’s look at 2010. An estimated 17.6 million tablets shipped during that year, of which 83% of them were iPads. By the end of this year it’s estimated that 63.6 million tablets will ship, up an astonishing 261.4%, and 73.4% of them will be iPads. Carolina Milanesi, Research Vice President at Gartner, has this to say:
“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50% of the market until 2014. This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal. Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.
So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications. 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 smartphones application ecosystem is second only to Apple’s.”
There’s not much we can add to that. We don’t recommend Android tablets for a reason. That being said, some of us at IntoMobile still question the need for tablets in the first place. It may seem ignorant to call them nothing more than giant smartphones, but really … that’s all they are. An 11 inch MacBook Air may cost twice as much as an iPad and have poorer battery life, but it can do pretty much anything. It’ll even run Windows.