Apple’s owned 95.5% of the tablet market during the 3rd quarter of 2010, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. The firm said that Apple’s lead will be threatened, however, as a new wave of Android-based devices begins hitting the market beginning later this quarter.
According to the firm, there were 4.4 million tablets sold in the 3rd quarter, and Apple sold 95.5% of them. Android devices made up another 2.3% of the market.
“In terms of becoming the number one player in hardware, Apple will hang on to that for at least the next year. They have quite a lead already,” Neil Mawston, the author of the report, explained. “From a software perspective, Android stands a good chance of catching Apple iOS pretty quickly.”
This, despite the fact that Google itself has warned manufacturers away from using the current version of Android for tablet devices, a form factor for which the OS was neither designed nor intended. Future versions of Android could be developed for tablets, and since it’s an open source OS, vendors could choose to tweak it themselves.
Chrome OS is another possible Google OS for tablets, though the company is ostensibly focusing that operating system on netbooks. Nonetheless, Strategy Analytics believes that Android can catch up to iOS “pretty quickly.”
In coverage of the report by FastCompany, Mr. Mawston added that a competitor might be able to catch up to the iPad by improving the user interface for a tablet device (perhaps by offering a physical keyboard).
“If a global player with wider distribution networks ramps up volume—Samsung, Nokia is an outside bet, maybe Dell, maybe HP—they might be able to compete fairly well,” Mr. Maws wrote.
For some comparison, Apple currently owns some 17% of the global smartphone business (26% in the U.S.) with the iPhone, and less than 5% of the global computer market with the Mac (10.6% in the U.S.). The iPod has been Apple’s most dominant product, regularly owning 70% or more of the digital media device market.