Apple to Dominate Tablet Market Until 2012–At Least
In 2011 tablet revenues will rise to $24.9 billion, and by 2012 they’ll reach $34.1 billion. And Apple will claim the lion’s share of both, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz. Which isn’t all that surprising, really. As Moskowitz observes, while the concept of the tablet has been around for more than a decade now, it wasn’t established and mainstreamed until Apple introduced the iPad in January 2010. And Apple set the bar so high with the device that rivals are finding it tough to match it, let alone surpass it.
“Our assumption is that Apple’s dominance will remain firmly intact in the near to mid-term, but gradually, technology improvements and component cost declines will enable the laggards to offer ‘good enough’ solutions to loosen some of Apple’s grip,” Moskowitz says. “Of note, we expect a host of competitive tablets in 2H 2011, following the release of Android 3.0 this coming spring. The upgraded Android operating system should gradually improve the competitiveness relative to Apple’s iOS. Our conversations with industry contacts indicate that the current version of Android does not provide a computing rich experience, which is a requisite of tablets.”
But a gradual improvement in the competitiveness of Android tablets isn’t nearly enough to slow the iPad juggernaut. Presumably, a lot of those first-generation Android 3.0 tablets will arrive at market about the same time as the second generation of the iPad. That alone should allow Apple to maintain a comfortable lead, but the company has iOS and the iTunes content ecosystem working in its favor as well.
“With tablets, we view form factor, operating system robustness, and content ubiquity as critical demand enablers, and here, we expect Apple to dominate,” Moskowitz concludes. “Similar to the iPhone, the iPad reflects Apple’s ability to introduce unrivaled technology experiences for the customer. The key factor driving the separation from other tablet vendors stands to be Apple’s content ecosystem. With tablets, we think that offering a trove of applications, as is industry practice in smartphones, will not be enough. The ability of the user to access content, such as movies and TV shows, is increasingly important for tablet users. This dynamic is where Apple has fought hard to secure access to content, and we think it will take time for other vendors to establish a similar content ecosystem.”