Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Apple Inc. is projected to lead the worldwide tablet computer market with a 73.4 percent share this year, as competitors using Google’s Android operating system (OS) continue to lag, according to tech research firm Gartner Inc.
Worldwide tablet sales to end-users are on track to reach 63.6 million units for 2011, a 261.4 percent increase from 2010 when sales of 17.6 million units were recorded, Gartner said in a recent report.
Sales of Apple’s iPad are forecast to hit 46.7 million units, a huge growth from the 14.7 million units last year when the device took 83 percent market share.
“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.
“This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services,” Milanesi said. “Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal.”
Android-powered tablets, including those from Acer Inc., Asustek Computer Inc. of Taiwan and Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, are expected to ship 11 million units in 2011, accounting for 17.3 percent of global tablet sales. This represents only a slight growth from Android’s 2010 market share of 14.3 percent.
Gartner said it has lowered its forecast for the Android OS by 28 percent from last quarter’s projection. The reduction would have been greater had it not been for the success of lower-end tablets in Asia and the expectations surrounding the launch of Amazon’s tablet, the research firm said.
“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.
Apart from Apple’s iOS and the Android OS, Gartner said, it did not expect any other platforms such as Research In Motion’s QNX OS and Hewlett-Packard Co.’s webOS to take more than 5 percent share of the tablet market in 2011.
Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, said that most of Apple’s competitors are struggling to meet Apple’s prices without considerably sacrificing their profit margins.
However, screen quality and processing power are the two hardware features that vendors cannot afford to compromise on, he said.
“They should consider everything else ‘nice to have,’ rather than essential, in order to keep bills-of-materials costs competitive with those of the iPad,” Cozza said.