Apple losing tablet market share, but still on top

Faith Merino · September 22, 2011 · Short URL:

A Gartner report shows Apple's market share shrinking, but it's expected to rule through 2015

Good and bad news for Apple today: it’s expected to continue to dominate the tablet market through 2014, according to estimates released today by Gartner, but its market share will continue to erode over the next few years.

Gartner puts Apple’s current market share at 73.4%, down from 83% last year.  As more tablets scramble into the market, Apple is likely to lose more market share, but Gartner’s forecast is that Apple will remain strong with at least a 50% share of the tablet market through 2014. Beyond Apple and Android, Gartner doesn’t expect any other tablet OS to gain more than a 5% market share.

Speaking of Android… Last month, ABI Research released a report claiming that Android has eaten into 20% of Apple’s market share.  Gartner sees the numbers very differently, putting Android’s overall market share at only 17.3%, up slightly from its 14.3% market share last year. 

And Gartner doesn’t see Android rising much in the ranks in the near future.  The research firm reduced its forecast for the Android OS by 28% from last quarter’s projection, and Gartner says the reduction would have been even greater save for the upcoming Amazon tablet and the success of some lower-end tablets in Asia.

“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications” said Carolina Milanesi, research VP at Gartner, in a statement.

Android is on track to 11 million tablets this year, compared to Apple’s 46.7 million.  Android is expected to close the gap slightly over the next few years, but by 2015, Gartner still anticipates Apple to be in the lead with 148.7 million tablets sold to Android’s 116.4 million.

Overall this year, Gartner says that worldwide tablet sales are on track to surpass 63 million units, a 261.4% increase over last year, when 17.6 million tablets were sold.  By 2015, Gartner predicts that sales will reach 326.3 million units.

“Most of Apple's competitors are struggling to meet Apple's prices without considerably sacrificing margins. Screen quality and processing power are the two hardware features that vendors cannot afford to compromise on,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, in a statement.

Could the much-anticipated Amazon tablet give Apple a run for its money?  As many analysts have already touted, Amazon is possibly the only brand that could effectively compete with Apple, and its tablet is widely expected to debut at less than $300.  Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps projects that Amazon could sell between 3-5 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.


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