Gartner Projects Apple to Rule Tablet Market Through 2015

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Apple will rule the tablet market through 2015, and command 50% or more share through at least 2014, according to a new report from Gartner. The market research firm said that Apple’s “superior and unified user experience” will allow the company to maintain its lead and make challenges to the iPad very difficult going forward.


“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, wrote in a statement. “This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal.”

The figure below shows 2010 unit sales, as well as projections for 2011, 2012, and 2015. In those projections, Apple is crushing the competition in the early years, and is the dominant player in 2015, though Android is finally catching up in the last year of the projections.

Tablet Unit Projections Through 2015

Chart by The Mac Observer from Gartner data

Similar projections from other analysts have Android beginning to (inexplicably) take off as early as 2012—Gartner’s numbers are the most bullish for Apple’s continued dominance in this market compared to all the other mainstream projections we have seen.

The report also acknowledged Apple as the price leader and said that the company’s foresight in securing favorable component deals has given it a significant competitive lead.

“Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen,” Mr. Milanesi wrote. “This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.”

Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, added, “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. They should consider everything else ‘nice to have,’ rather than essential, in order to keep bills-of-materials costs competitive with those of the iPad.”

In the figure below, we sliced up the data for 2011 and 2015 to present it as market share.

 Tablet Share Projections for 2011 and 2015

Chart by The Mac Observer from Gartner data


Gartner is projecting that some 11 million Android devices will ship in calendar 2011, with market share of 17.3%. This represents a slight uptick from 2010’s 14.3%, and Gartner lowered its Android projections some 28% since its tablet report issued last quarter.

“So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications” Ms. Milanesi wrote in what could be characterized as stinging commentary.

She believes, however, that Ice Cream Sandwich, an upcoming version of Android, will go far in correcting the fragmentation Google has been seeing in its Android platform. Gartner expects strong OEM support for that release, and that this will help Android tablets going forward.


Windows 8 has a shot at making Microsoft a player in the tablet market, but Gartner said that the company’s late arrival could prove an obstacle as iOS and Android will be firmly established before the first Windows 8 tablets ship.

The firm said that Research In Motion’s QNX is “promising.” Enough said on that.

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Ross Edwards

Why do these analysts keep rectally sourcing their Android market share projections for future years?  Precisely which Android tablet or tablets are supposed to gain that much market share against the iPad?  Samsung’s?  Motorola’s?  Cheap Chinese knockoffs?  The Kindle unicorn? 

Android tablets are GARBAGE.  This isn’t smartphones where a carrier lock-in will give Android an opportunity to put their foot in the door and exploit the market (and now that Verizon and soon Sprint can offer the iPhone, that door seems to be closing steadily)—this is iPods where nobody wants what the others are selling because only the Apple device works well enough to satisfy the mainstream market.

I strongly suspect the actual sell-through market share for iOS this year is north of 90%, not just in the low seventies, and I expect it to be unchanged by 2015.  Any analyst claiming otherwise is picking the wrong comparative scenario to work from.


Android tablets are GARBAGE.

Ross, I agree, but people buy garbage all the time. It might be because it is a different size, or a different color, or has a particular feature they want, or a particular price point. When dozens of different manufacturers saturate the market with every flavor or tablet, they will gain market share. And that’s OK. Last thing we want is Apple to be “helped” by the US Government due to 90+% market share over the next few years.

If HP has another tablet run with a $99 sell price just to get rid of their committed component overstocks, people will buy them because of the price (heck, I’d probably buy one if I stumbled across one at that price), and this will affect Apple’s market share. I suspect Apple will settle at 60%-70% market share in terms of unit sales but 85% or higher profit share, just like in the smartphone market, and this is what really matters to shareholders.

So, let the cheap android tablets continue, and let people buy them and hate them and curse themselves for buying the cheap stuff, and then let them “upgrade” to the iPad. And let iPad continue its tremendous growth in education, medical, and corporate fields. It truly is amazing how many people in so many areas of usage simply love the iPad. I just hope that Apple comes out with a mid-sized iPad (7”) to compete in that market. I know Steve Jobs said it didn’t make sense, but I don’t think it would be hard for them to build it and I think it would appeal to a lot of people.

Watching my three daughters carry pounds and pounds of books to school every day makes me wonder when schools will finally move to 100% iPads for education. It just makes sense. Talk about going green - one iPad for years and years of school instead of printing dozens of books over the same time period. Wow.


Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple?s position will be minimal


Here is the crux of the conundrum: if the issue is a “superior and unified user experience” across the hardware and software, in a word, the ecosphere, then on what basis, pray tell, does Android or any other competitor gain against Apple’s marketshare?

This is not to say that Apple’s competition, perhaps most notably though not exclusively Android (let’s not forget MS gearing up with Win8), will not erode Apple’s current tablet marketshare, I believe they will; but what is missing from these analysts’ analysis is a compelling thesis for why and how that will occur. That shortcoming makes their projections read more like articles of faith than reasoned conclusion, and engenders the scepticism noted in the comments above. You are right to, tongue-in-cheek, note that “other analysts have Android beginning to (inexplicably) take off as early as 2012”, with ‘inexplicable’ being the operative word.

My own take, in trying to prise argument from these analysts pronouncements, is that there are three elements that will contribute to such gain by the competition:

1) Ice Cream Sandwich, or if I may, the ‘Unified Field Theory’ in which, by unifying the operating system across hardware, Android replicates the unified iOS experience now enjoyed by Apple clients. This is certainly a possibility, but the longer the delay in such shared experience, the more ground Google will have to catch up. Worse, they are aiming at today’s bead; or using Relativistic terms, they are looking at the light source as it was back in time; it has already moved. They have no idea what they will be competing against once Ice Cream Sandwich comes out, but it will not be today’s iOS.

2) Cost. Somehow, someway, some day, Android OEMs are going to get their costs more in line with Apple’s offerings with competitive specs. I don’t know which economics or business schools these analysts attended, but they could only have passed the ‘Voodoo’ courses. The economics do not work for the competition; Apple have a lock on supplies in which they have paid in cash, and moreover, by controlling the widget, they have the economy of motion advantage. Android OEMs may provide lower costs devices, but only with lesser offerings (hardware configurations) at razor thin margins. MS, on the other hand, has a shot at a compelling software/hardware package, if it can pull it together. This remains a ‘dark horse’.

3) Critical mass. Sorry to keep returning to physics, but it works. In this scenario, so long as the competition keeps putting tablets ‘out there’, and somehow, someway, some day, people keep buying them (presumably before the user experience is optimised - inexplicably - and then beyond), these devices (Android, Win8, others) may achieve critical mass with a runaway effect that ‘takes off’ - thermonuclear reaction in which the competition’s marketshare mushrooms (couldn’t resist that imagery) and Apple’s takes a hit. Okay, it’s possible, but the anaemic uptake to date suggests that some additional variable must be introduced into this system, missing today, to feed that ‘activation energy’, if you will. A catalyst of sorts. It could happen, but it will not happen out of thin air, it needs to be wilfully, deliberately introduced.

In any case, these are not my theories. I am just trying to make sense of what appears to be the theories of these analysts. So far, they are non-compelling, even if their predictions, for which they provide little argument, prove correct.

Cal Packart

Precisely which Android tablet or tablets are supposed to gain that much market share against the iPad?  Samsung?s?  Motorola?s?  Cheap Chinese knockoffs?  The Kindle unicorn?

All of the above.

I’ll take mid-grade Android tablet like an ACER Iconia A500 for $325 out the door with a coupon over an iPad any day. No proprietary adapters to buy. Plenty of ports. I don’t have to give my credit card info to download free apps from the market place. I can print whatever I want without having to take a screenshot and print the image like some items must be on the iPad. Flash - while perhaps on it’s way out (or not) - capable. Memory expansion without a proprietary adapter. Open and more competitive. And on and on…

In reality, it’s a better value for your money, especially given how premature the tablet market is.

Plus I wouldn’t want to spend a $600+ on an Apple product knowing they’re just sitting on something better to release a few months later after I’m already suckered into the newly released, but technically outdated as per their current unreleased internal development state of technology. Being fed from the teet of Apple is slow and deliberate, and there’s always better quality milk they’re holding back from you. All companies do it, but Apple is the worst.

The much deeper reason for not buying an iPad or Galaxy even for that matter is price point. Most people are unaware of how particularly a tablet fits into their lifestyle. Do you want a glorified phone or eReader on steroids or do you want what would be considered a dumb’d down netbook? there’s all different levels of tablet. What will you use it for and how often? Many will opt not to blow their whole nut on a $600+ tablet that could be irrelevant to them personally in a year when they desire something with different portability or features after determining just exactly what they do need it for.

Just sayin’.


I?ll take mid-grade Android tablet like an ACER Iconia A500

Cal, I commend you on your analysis in choosing a tablet, but just realize that you are in the minority big-time on this one. You may perceive that it is a better value for your money, but tens of millions of people do not agree with you. Acer is in the minor leagues with this thing.

Your insult of Apple “sitting on something better” is absolutely incorrect.  Apple is better than your average company in that they basically wait a year between major hardware releases. Sounds like you may have been hosed once, but that is probably your fault. If you had done some research it is very easy to determine when Apple is going to release their new hardware, give-or-take a few months. The iPhone 4 is selling like crazy still, even though it is an 18 month old design. In the time between the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 releases, Motorola has probably released 5 or 6 separate android phones. Same with HTC and Samsung. They seem to release a new android phone every few months, which would royally piss me off if I had just bought an android phone a few months before their new release. Apple is much more stable with hardware release. So, please explain to me why Apple is the worst in your mind.

As for your last sentence, I really don’t understand it. The iPad (unlike your A500) is making huge inroads into corporations, medical, and education, in addition to your millions of average Joes buying them every month. Replacing medical charts, replacing school books, replacing pilot manuals, replacing scripts, replacing books, replacing magazines, replacing newspapers, and on and on and on. It is not a glorified phone or an eReader on steroids or a dumbed down netbook. It is a tablet, an entirely new device. I have a first gen iPad that I still love. It does exactly what I need, when I need it, and will not become irrelevant to me. Different portability? Huh? Your A500 is a toy compared to what the iPad is doing in just about every industry it touches. You can’t deny this.

I suspect you are just trolling here, but if not, feel free to come back and explain yourself. But don’t just shoot the atypical Apple insults blindly here.

Cal Packart

Acer is in the minor leagues with this thing.

It’s always a complex comparison when involving Apple as they manufacture both the hardware and software. So as far as Acer in the minor leagues… are we talking about tablet manufacturing… or mobile PC manufacturing (tables in addition to netbooks and laptops… personal computing in general… or operating system? I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Acer as a player over time. They’re towards the top of the heap for PC market share. And as far as OS, Android is slowly chomping away at iOS’s market share.

I don’t expect us to see eye to eye on my issues with Apple’s product cycle. Those are matters of consumer preference and I believe we sit on opposite sides of the fence.

Sounds like you may have been hosed once, but that is probably your fault.

I learned this lesson when Apple was cranking out OS’s annually, before most people even knew what an iPod was. Most of these were simple modifications that could have been free updates, rather than retail versions which then threw all of your software into disarray.I hate to sound like Grandpa complaining about old’n times but it’s their M.O. Granted, they’ve become waaaaay more consumer friendly in many different aspects. But to me, I still see the same types of games being played. Which is fine, fair enough - but not at the premium prices they’re commanding.

And as far as the multiple Android phone releases, you have to take into account that we’re talking about - everything from BB knockoffs to slider phones to full touch screen phones. I’m sure there is a tremendous amount of overlap but there are quite a bit of huge fundamental differences between some of these phones.

And I’m not trying to cheer that Android is king. It’s a joke that Google does not have all devices on one (or even two) versions of their platform. I realize that’s not easy given the number of manufacturers but, nevertheless, they need to tidy up.

Cal Packart

As for your last sentence, I really don?t understand it.

I think there may be some miscommunication here. I’ll attempt to clarify.

The iPad (unlike your A500) is making huge inroads into corporations, medical, and education, in addition to your millions of average Joes buying them every month. Replacing medical charts, replacing school books, replacing pilot manuals, replacing scripts, replacing books, replacing magazines, replacing newspapers, and on and on and on.

That has just as much to do with marketing as it does with how great the iPad is (which I agree it is). Apple made it to the race first and they’re way ahead. And that may or may not change.

It’s similar to the HUGE misconception that the average individual has that a Mac is an “Art” computer. Windows had conquered the world, entrenching itself in institutions and corporations. As multimedia and graphic arts had gone digital, Apple saw a niche market and made tremendous inroads. They established themselves as the standard for such. As a 15-yr veteran in the art industry, I can tell you there is no worthwhile difference between using a Mac or PC for graphics. It’s simply a matter of personal preference.

So you reference everywhere that’s adopting the iPad and that’s great. But that doesn’t mean it will last forever or that it’s necessarily the best choice. I’m not saying it isn’t but it’s just not indicative of that. If you really want to talk optimization - you mention replacing pilot manuals. RIM should be the standard there and if they aren’t now but play their cards properly, they will be. Why not have a plane that already runs on QNX integrated with a pilot’s manual on a QNX tablet (the Playbook)?

It is not a glorified phone or an eReader on steroids or a dumbed down netbook.

I wasn’t referring to the iPad in particular. I was speaking about tablets in general. And, yes, some tablets fit into one or more of those classifications.

It is a tablet, an entirely new device.

And despite the statement above, I personally agree with you wholeheartedly on this. That’s the very reason why I bought a tablet and I love it. I see the purpose of it. My point was more how others perceive tablets and/or what solutions they are looking for.

It does exactly what I need, when I need it, and will not become irrelevant to me.

That’s great. And I mean that sincerely. However, what if I bought an iPad and I discover that its print integration doesn’t fit my needs as well as I need it to… or if I bought a Playbook and the email support (or better lack thereof)is entirely inefficient for me… or my own a500 is too heavy for me to hold and use for the real life situations that I need it in?

That’s why I’m saying that until a consumer knows exactly what they (not want but) actually need in the device, they are better off not spending a substantial amount of money on it. If the inability for memory expansion on their Galaxy tab isn’t working for them, they’re going to be pissed they blew $600+ on it.

Different portability? Huh?

As per my a500. It’s a brick compared to the iPad or Galaxy and this perhaps may become an issue for be down the road. If it does, though, I will sleep easier knowing that it only set me back $325.

Cal Packart

Your A500 is a toy compared to what the iPad is doing in just about every industry it touches. You can?t deny this.

I use the iPad2 periodically and I love it. I truly do.

I think your statement is a little over the top, though. I’m not even arguing that one is better than the other but to call the a500 a toy is ridiculous. Let’s look…

iPad2 - thinner, lighter - HUGE win.

OS - Matter of personal preference.

Apps - iPad has more hands down. But the staggering numbers thrown around account for a ton of BS apps, too. So let’s water that down. That being said, though, the iPad still has a better supply of solid apps at this time.

Both have dual core processors.

a500 has twice the RAM.

a500 has the flexibility to add more (and interchangeable) storage.

a500 has HDMI and USB ports… most importantly SANS proprietary adapter. As a consumer, that adapter BS irks me - same goes for the Galaxy going that route last minute. Those adapters should be free or the port should be built into the device. It’s a scam.

iPad2 cameras can’t even hold a candle to the Acer specs.

Like I said, I’m not trying to prove one better than the other as I’m sure there are more arguments to be made for each. But, seriously, the a500 is not any more of a toy than the iPad2.

I suspect you are just trolling here, but if not, feel free to come back and explain yourself. But don?t just shoot the atypical Apple insults blindly here.

Trolling, yes. But I did pop back in today. I hope I clarified for you that I’m not trying to bash here… simply just trying to show another perspective.

I’m going to leave you with one other thing to consider long term. You spoke a bit about the iPad’s undeniably successful inroads into just about everywhere (which is a true testament to what an amazing company Apple is and what a groundbreaking product they have). When Google scooped up Motorola Mobility, mainstream media wanted to jump on the whole Android vs iOS cage match. They missed the big picture, though. When you have some time, take a look at Motorola Mobility’s acquisition of 4Home last year, Google’s desire to get into the green market since 2009, Google’s announcement of Android@home last Spring and subsequently the Moto acquisition. Looking at Moto’s footprint in every home down to people’s cable boxes and the evolution of z-wave (which android@home was not going to use but we’ll see now given 4Home’s foundation)... and it’s interesting to look where this is all really leading to. Pretty exciting.


Hi Cal.  Welcome back.  Very interesting responses, and tough to respond on all of them.  Plus, I’m a bit brain fried after an extremely long day and not so much sleep the past few days.  I was probably a bit over-the-top back at you on a few things.  I do appreciate your responses, and learned a few things too.

By all means, Acer is a respectable brand and is well positioned to continue to grow.  And as you said, for someone on-the-fence regarding the purchase of a tablet, it is much easier to swallow $325 as opposed to $500+ for the iPad.  Plus, I can see for people that are not that into iTunes and the integration that it offers iOS users, an android tablet has a lot to offer.  I am not one who blindly says that Apple will rule tablets forever - there really needs to be good competition with alternatives.

I do understand now what you were trying to get at related to how it fits your lifestyle.  I guess I’m a bit more lenient than a lot of people related to print integration or email support.  What may be a show-stopper for a lot of people is something that I probably just deal with.  When there are too many advantages, I can see past the shortcomings.  I’m sorry if I came across as bashing the A500 - I really have no experience with it.

As for your last few comments, I’ll take a look sometime.  I agree that whoever can successfully integrate home functions in a cost effective and beneficial way will become very successful.  But, there’s always a lot of talk and fancy demos but I need to see some cost effective solutions.  Apple is no closer really - some fancy third party stuff with iPads as central control, but still too costly to be successful.  But, give it a few years.

I did see a commercial for an in-home security system that looks to be integrating video, temperature control, lighting, etc. with their security systems.  Pretty cool, but I’m sure with a large monthly fee.  I must admit that android is better positioned as the more open architecture to allow more of a grass roots movement of home automation devices, but all it takes is for Apple to decide that the home is the next route it wants to take and they will quickly surpass the grass roots stuff.  With android you have all the version issues and different hardware issues, but if Apple releases the iHome device that is easy to install and set up, they will immediately have access to tens of millions if iOS capable people who will want it!!

Nice “talking” with you.

Cal Packart

Ron - Thanks for the reply and I enjoyed the conversation as well.

2 quick things…

I can see for people that are not that into iTunes

I actually hate iTunes for many reasons. Primarily due to updates. Updates install Quicktime on my computers every time it updates, whether I tell it to or not. Quicktime even takes over my Photoshop files (?!?!) on updates, even if I specify not to in preferences. With how frequently iTunes updates, there is a constant pain-in-the-you-know-what for my library that I share with another computer. Both computers need to be in sync running the same exact version of iTunes (which isn’t so easy to coordinate with another person).

That being said, unfortunately, it’s pretty hard to escape iTunes. You’d be hard pressed to find a worthy competitor out there - trust me, I’ve tried. iTunes itself is amazing software.

So, therefore, if I can avoid iTunes and its store, I certainly will.

Second thing - a little bonus for being such a good sport…

If you are interested in that particular alarm (and I know exactly which one you are talking about), here’s a little something useful. I don’t want to publicly put a company on blast in a comment thread but I’ll tell you this. If you do a little due diligence for that particular company’s previous names (and/or parent company) and then comb through press releases, you can determine who manufactures the equipment. This manufacturer sells the equipment directly as well. You can then easily comparison shop for the (unbranded by the alarm company) equipment all over those types of outlets on the web.

The install is a breeze - seriously. Then you can hook up with a reputable monitoring service (a little web research and the BBB will help you with that) for a fraction of the cost and no where near as long as the crazy contract that particular company wants.

In the end, it should save you a few grand.

Plus, it’s Z-wave based and you can add pieces from all different manufacturers once you have a system in place.

Good luck and take care!

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