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State of the tablet market: Now until 2016

by Morgan Phelps

Despite the growing popularity of Android tablets, it seems Apple will maintain its stronghold on the tablet market until at least 2015, at least if predictions by Informa Telecoms & Media prove to be true. The iPad accounts for approximately three-quarters of the existing tablet market, which includes about 20 million devices to date.

Informa expects Apple's market share to drop to 38 percent by 2015, at which point there is expected to be more than 230 million devices in consumers' hands. Although cheaper and more advanced Android tablets will be widespread by then, Informa is not anticipating them to overtake the iPad until 2016. Gartner does not share Informa's affinity for Android, predicting that Apple will continue to hold 47 percent of the market in 2015, with Android holding slightly more than 38 percent. Meanwhile, sales of RIM's PlayBook are expected to grow once the device supports Android apps and 4G connectivity, but not nearly at the same pace as Android and the iPad.

Although the uptake of tablet computers has been rapid, they both remain in the “early adopter” phase, with just 7 percent of users polled by Mintel indicating they own a tablet. Of the 10.3 million devices in the market currently, the most likely owners are young, male and affluent or those in households with an annual net income of $150,000 or more. Families with children seeking to educate or entertain them are also more likely to own tablets.

Mashable predicted that Google could eventually become a leader in both the e-reader and tablet markets thanks to its Android operating system and app market and its Google Books reading and purchasing platform. But first, Android-powered devices must overtake the dominant iPad and competition from Samsung, Motorola, Sony and many other players likely to enter the market from now until 2016.