Apple's tablet holds almost 70% market share today, but the research firm predicts that supremacy will wane by 2015 as Android-powered tablets approach 40% share.
Gartner, the venerable IT research firm, declared on Monday that Apple's iOS will dominate the tablet market through 2015.
The success of Apple's iPad, which Gartner expects will account for 69% of the media tablet market this year, makes this something of a foregone conclusion.
A month after the iPad 2's March 11 launch, Apple's retail stores are still basically sold out. As of last week, people were still lining up every morning at Apple's flagship store in San Francisco more than an hour before opening for the chance to buy a new model iPad. The delivery wait when ordering online is still two to three weeks.
Sprint meanwhile just dropped the price of Samsung's Android-based Galaxy Tab to $199 to help move inventory. And Motorola's Xoom tablet has sold only about 100,000 units since its launch in February, according to an estimate made by Deutsche Bank analysts.
That's not to say it's hopeless for Apple's competition. Gartner sees Apple's tablet market share dwindling to 47% by 2015 as Android-powered tablets rise from 20% market share this year to 39% by 2015. But Gartner believes that such growth will be slower as a result of Google's decision to delay making the latest tablet-tuned version of Android, known as Honeycomb, available through its open source program.
Gartner also says RIM, with its PlayBook and new QNX operating system, will manage to capture 10% of the media tablet market by 2015. The prospects of HP's webOS and Intel's MeeGo look less bright.
Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, sees misdirected focus among those coveting Apple's success. She argues that too much attention is being paid to hardware and not enough to the platform ecosystem, to applications, services, and user experience.
One might also argue, as does AppleInsider's Daniel Eran Dilger, that too much attention is paid to Gartner. Dilger has analyzed Gartner's recent smartphone predictions and found that the firm isn't particularly accurate when it comes to anticipating the future.
That may be, but picking Apple to lead the tablet market for the next three years is probably as reliable as late comedian George Carlin's weather forecast: "Continued dark overnight, with widely scattered light by morning."
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