Pretenders to Apple's fondleslab crown will not overcome the domination of the iPad any time soon if the beancounters at Gartner are to be believed.
In one of their less challenging predictions, the analysts said that rivals remain so far behind Apple and its shiny slates that the US giant will have a "free run" of the market during the festive season.
“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 per cent of the market until 2014,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.
This, she reasons, is because Apple has built better tablet hardware, software and content. And unless competitors can ape this model, "challenges to Apple's position will be minimal".
Gartner is predicting iPad shipments will represent 73.4 per cent of worldwide sales this year, down from 83 per cent last year. In terms of OS market share, it is estimated that Apple iOS and Android will hold around 95 per cent.
Around 11 million devices based on Google's OS are expected to ship in 2011, more than 17 per cent of the total market and up from 14.3 per cent a year ago.
Garner has slashed its forecast for Android by 28 per cent from last quarter's projection and the reduction would have been more severe were it not for rising shipments of low-end tablets in Asia and the forthcoming Amazon slate.
“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications,” Milanesi 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," she added. ®