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Apple iPad to Maintain Grip on Global Tablet Market

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(Photo: Apple.com)
(Photo: Apple.com)


  • iPad sales to reach 73 million units in 2012 for over 61% market share
  • Global tablet sales to jump 98% to nearly 119 million
  • Android to reach 37% market share by 2016

Apple’s domination of the tablet PC market is set to continue through 2012, with Android unable to reproduce the success it enjoyed in the smartphone sector, according to information technology research group Gartner.

In its recent global sales report, the research firm estimates that global tablet sales will jump to close to 119 million by the end of the year, nearly doubling last year’s figure of 60 million units.

Of total tablet sales in 2012, Apple’s iPad is expected to account for around 73 million units, or over 61% of the market – down from nearly 67% in 2011.

Despite Apple dropping more than five percentage points, its main rival Android is not forecast to gain much ground. Sales of tablet devices powered by Google’s software will more than double to almost 38 million units in 2012, which will see its market share up to 32% - a rise of only around three percentage points.

Samsung and Amazon will lead sales of Android tablets in 2012 with their Galaxy Tab and Kindle devices.

Android Apps Lagging

Android can attribute its slow gains in the tablet PC market to the lack of unique applications available to users, according to Roberta Cozza, Senior Analyst at Gartner.

This is partly due to the fact that tablet app development has not enjoyed the same boom as the smartphone market Cozza told the International Data Group News Service. He also pointed to fragmentation, with the variety of graphics processing units (GPUs) across different manufacturers seen as an obstacle to developers.

But Apple’s iron grip on the market will not last forever. Gartner forecasts that through 2016, global tablet sales will rise to 369 million units, with the iPad’s share dropping to 46% -- around 15 percentage points lower than 2012.

Android’s share is projected to climb around 5 percentage points to 37%.

Microsoft is also expected to become a key player in the coming years, with its Windows 8 platform soon to be released. The software giant will sell around 4.9 million tablets in 2012, which amounts to over 4% of the market.

Its share will not exceed 12% through 2016, Gartner’s research indicates.

iPad Generic

Apple’s domination of the tablet industry has seen the iPad become more than just a household name. Such is the popularity of the device that its brand may become the generic for the whole sector, like Band-Aid, Kleenex or Aspirin, according to Associated Press business writer Mae Anderson.

This is a double-edged sword for firms like Apple. Companies pump endless resources into making their brand the best-known in the industry, but from time to time they do their job so well that their trademarks risk becoming the generic – therefore diminishing the brand’s reputation.

It would not be a first for Apple, which has already seen its iPod become something of a generic for all manner of different digital music players. However, despite running so close to “genericization”, the company was able to ride the wave of its marketing success while retaining a firm hold of its individual brand power.

If Gartner’s predictions for the next five years prove accurate, Android may just play a helping hand in keeping the iPad individual.

Key Statistics - Global Tablet Market (source: Gartner)

  • Global tablet sales are expected to reach almost 119 million units through 2012 – almost doubling 2011 sales of 60 million units. 
  • In 2012, Apple will sell around 73 million tablets, which amounts to over 61% market share. In 2011, it had close to 67% of the market.
  • In 2012, Android tablet sales will more than double to almost 38 million units, making a modest 3% gain, giving it 32% of the market.

By James Mulholland for
James Mulholland is a Paris-based internet and broadcast journalist specializing in sports, current affairs and technology news, while also freelancing as a photographer.

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