Mobile Computing | Research

Google Android Tablets To Gain on Apple iPad

Over the next five years, Android-based tablets will gain on Apple's iPad, though iOS will lead (by a declining margin) at least through 2015, according to a new report from market research firm Gartner. Devices based on HP's webOS and BlackBerry's QNX will also gain traction in worldwide market share.

iPad Set for Dramatic Growth
Gartner reported that iPad currently dominates the tablet scene, with worldwide unit sales of 14.77 million in 2010, representing 83.9 percent of all tablets sold last year.

That number is expected to grow substantially in the near term. By the end of this year, Gartner forecast, sales will more than triple to 47.96 million then grow to 68.67 million in 2012. By the end of 2015, that number will reach 138.5 million.

"Seeing the response from both consumers and enterprises to the iPad, many vendors are trying to compete by first delivering on hardware and then trying to leverage the platform ecosystem," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a statement released to coincide with the report. "Many, however, are making the same mistake that was made in the first response wave to the iPhone, as they are prioritizing hardware features over applications, services and overall user experience. Tablets will be much more dependent on the latter than smartphones have been, and the sooner vendors realize that the better chance they have to compete head-to-head with Apple."


iOS and Android tablet purchases will grow to a combined total of about 252 million by 2015.

But at the same time, the iPad's market share will be declining year to year, according to the report, "Forecast: Media Tablets by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015." By 2015, the report said, Apple will lose dominance of the market, making up 47.1 percent of tablet sales.

The Challengers: Android, QNX, webOS
Most of that market share will be eaten up by Android-based tablets, which Gartner forecast to grow from a mere 2.5 million worldwide in 2010 (a 14.2 percent market share) to 13.9 million in by the end of this year (a 19.9 percent market share) and then just about double to 26.38 million the following year (a 24.4 percent share of worldwide purchases). Eventually it will hit 113.46 million units in 2015 (a 38.6 percent share).

"Smartphone users will want to buy a tablet that runs the same operating system as their smartphone. This is so that they can share applications across devices as well as for the sense of familiarity the user interfaces will bring," Milanesi said. In the smart phone market, Android already dominates the iPhone and is expected to widen the gap even further in the coming years. "Vendors developing on Android should be prepared to see more cross brand ownership as some users might put OS over brand when it comes to the purchasing decision. Improvements on usability and brand recognition are the strongest differentiators they can focus on."

Also eating into iPad's share, according to the forecasters, will Research in Motion's QNX, which will power the BlackBerry Playbook, and, to a lesser extent, HP with its webOS, the operating system that powers Palm devices. Tablets based on webOS will grow from zero in 2010 to 8.89 million in 2015 worldwide (a 3 percent market share). Tablets based on QNX will grow from zero in 2010 to 29.5 million in 2015 (a 10 percent market share).

Overall volume of worldwide tablet purchases will grow substantially over the next five years, from just 17.61 million in 2010 to 294.09 million in 2015.

The complete report, "Forecast: Media Tablets by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015," is available for $9,995. Further details can be found here.

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