Gartner Projects Apple iPad to Dominate Tablets Through 2016

Apple’s iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market through 2016, according to new projections from the Gartner Research. The firm said on Tuesday that Apple will remain the largest tablet vendor through 2016, though it will lose majority share during the time.

The chart below shows Gartner’s five year sales projections to end users, with Apple selling 73 million tablets in calendar 2012. In 2016, the firm believes Apple will sell a staggering 169.7 million iPads, more than four times what the company sold in 2011.

Gartner Data

Graph by The Mac Observer, from Gartner data

Gartner’s study found that the iPad has so far been the only tablet to see any success, and that even the rollout of Windows 8 devices and the international launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire won’t be enough to take away Apple’s leadership position over the next five years.

“Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad,” Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.

She added, “As vendors struggled to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem, inventories were built and only 60 million units actually reached the hands of consumers across the world. The situation has not improved in early 2012, when the arrival of the new iPad has reset the benchmark for the product to beat.”

The Future

Looking forward, Gartner believes that Microsoft’s Windows 8 platform (and its successors) will initially find success in the Enterprise market, where IT professionals will be more comfortable sticking with a platform they already know. This will limit Microsoft’s growth in this market, but Gartner believes that 43.6 million Windows tablets will be sold in 2016.

The company also believes that Research In Motion’s PlayBook tablet, a device that runs the QNX operating system, will also stay alive during the forecast period. By 2016, Gartner sees Research In Motion selling 17.8 million devices. The Mac Observer doesn’t recommend holding your breath on that one.

Android, on the other hand, will slowly gain momentum. Gartner said that fragmentation and a lack of tablet-specific apps are the main burden on Android device sales, but believes that over time the platform will become more competitive. In 2012, the firm is projecting that Android will have 31.7 percent share in the tablet market, increasing slowly to 37 percent by 2016.

The company didn’t break out sales for Amazon’s Kindle Fire. While the Kindle Fire runs Android, it’s a forked version of the OS that doesn’t include access to Google services.

Apple’s share is projected to be 46 percent in 2016. While that leaves Apple’s iPad as the largest tablet platform on the planet, it would give the iPad a plurality, as opposed to the majority share that Apple has enjoyed heretofore.

The chart below shows Gartner’s share numbers for 2011 and share projections for 2016.

Gartner Data

Graph by The Mac Observer, from Gartner data

Back to the Future

In September of 2011, Gartner had similar projections, with Apple maintaining 46 percent of the market in 2016, while Android took 36 percent. The main differences in the new projections are that Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Android both have one more point of share, while RIM’s QNX has three point less. The missing point can be ascribed to fractions and fewer fractional sales in the “Other” category.