The Gartner research group has just sent out a press release announcing their predictions for the next four years of the tablet market. To no one's surprise, they see iOS continuing to dominate this emerging product category. They expect the iPad to hold 69% of the market by the end of 2011, and 47% of it by 2015. Apple's market share (currently somewhere around 90%) is bound to drop substantially over the next few years. The competition is catching up, albeit slowly.
If Apple still owns close to half of the tablet segment by the end of 2015, they'll be doing far better than most of us expected when the first iPad launched. While that was an impressive start, Android tablets looked to be just a few steps behind. It seemed for a while that the tablet market would follow an accelerated version of the pattern we saw in smartphones.
Apple had about three years of dominion in the smartphone market before Android made real headway against them. But Apple's head-start on tablets was much shorter. There were Android competitors in the offing before the iPad even launched.
And, sadly, none of them has yet amounted to a hill of beans. Samsung and LG both have promising products in the near future, and the PlayBook has potential. But Gartner notes a crucial problem with every iPad competitor yet announced:
“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.”
Take a look at the ads for something like the Xoom, and then look at the iPad 2's ads. The first has a lot of fast cuts and giant metal spaceships and tech spec jargon. The second emphasizes features and design. A casual glance at the last month of tech headlines will show which of these strategies works better.