Apple's iPad will account for nearly three-quarters of the media tablets sold in 2011 and its market dominance will last at least another two years, analysts predict.
The company's marketing prowess and aggressive patent enforcement, the breadth of available apps and the iPad's design cachet will all combine to keep the iPad top of the tablet table into 2013, according to a report from IHS iSuppli Display Materials & Systems Service.
The analysts' crystal ball previously showed the iPad running out of steam and dropping below 50 per cent market share in 2012. But the latest prophecy ups all the numbers for the iPad and downgrades those for competitors.
HP bombed out of the tablet market last week, discontinuing its TouchPad tablet and webOS phones only 14 months after acquiring Palm to inject vigour into its tablet ambitions.
While iPad sales have been accelerating, Apple has been slowing competitors with costly and enervating legal action. For example, a recent judgment saw Samsung's Galaxy banned from sale in Europe.
"All the momentum... is with Apple right now," said Rhoda Alexander, senior manager for tablet and monitor research at IHS. "The competition can't seem to field a product with the right combination of hardware, marketing, applications and content to match.
"Apple's patent litigation is serving to slow or complicate competitors' entry into some key regional markets... this remains a one-horse race," she added.
IHS iSuppli now expects global media tablet shipments to rise to 60 million units in 2011, up 245.9 per cent from 17.4 million in 2010. The previous forecast issued by IHS soothsayers in May predicted shipments of 58.9 million for 2011.
The new figures will help propel media tablet shipments to 275.3 million units in 2015, compared to the previous forecast of 262.1 million.
Apple has made the right moves by expanding iPad sales into China and other developing economies, and selling to core markets in the professional, education and consumer sectors, said Alexander.
For example, recently merged airlines US and Continental have decided to ditch paper flight manuals in favour of a Boeing app that will run on a fleet of 11,000 iPads.
The paperless flight deck will replace 17.2kg of navigational charts, flight manuals and logbooks with the one 0.68kg tablet per pilot crew, saving 326,000 US gallons of fuel per year across its fleet, says the airline.
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