Apple's iPad is Seen Dominating Open Source Tablets Through 2015

by Sam Dean - Apr. 11, 2011Comments (0)

Despite many new challengers on the tablet front, Apple's iPad is seen by Gartner researchers as continuing to dominate the market through 2015. "Due to the success of Apple’s iPad, iOS will account for 69 percent of media tablet OSs in 2011, and represent 47 percent of the media tablet market in 2015," say Gartner researchers. That's not to say that tablets based on open source operating systems won't find their place, though. "Google’s Android OS is forecast to increase its worldwide share of the media tablet market from 20 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2015," according to Gartner. It's looking increasingly likely that Android and Apple's iOS platform will control the tablet market, while more peripheral operating systems such as WebOS won't find much traction.

According to a report from Gartner:

"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. “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."

As we've noted, with its Honeycomb version of the Android OS, Google is working with select hardware partners in the tablet space first, in an effort to avoid fragmentation and foster unified interface and usability experiences. The move has been perceived as playing favorites by many in the open source community, but user experience will indeed be an important differentiator for Android- and iOS-based tablets going forward.

Interestingly, Gartner researchers have this to say about Google's strategy:

"Analysts said Google’s decision not to open up the Honeycomb, its first OS version dedicated to tablets, to third parties will prevent fragmentation, but it will also slow the price decline and ultimately cap market share."

 Indeed, if Android could spread completely freely to new tablet devices it would result in greater market share and lower tablet prices, but Google appears to have made its decision to favor certain hardware makers committed to creating unified usability experiences and is sticking with that. Meanwhile, there is no denying Apple's success with the iPad--after countless other tablet devices failed over the years. The iPad 2 went up for sale March 11, and analysts estimate that Apple sold almost 500,000 units in the first weekend of availability. 

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