iSuppli: iPad way ahead of the pack

After a brief dip in late 2011, the Apple iPad has firmly reasserted its position as the dominant player in the tablet market.

According to the latest figures released today from market intelligence firm iSuppli, the iPad is projected to account for 61 percent of all tablets sold this year, up from 55.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

iSuppli says that the iPad's brief dip was largely caused by increased sales of the Amazon Kindle Fire, which helped Android-based tablets surge to a 41.1 percent market share late last year. With the hype surrounding the Kindle Fire dying down amid the release of the new iPad earlier this year, however, Android tablets are expected to see their total market share shrink to 38.4 percent in 2012. Even so, this is a long-run improvement for Android tablets, which accounted for just 31.1 percent of tablets sold in the third quarter of 2011.

Rhoda Alexander, the director for monitors and tablets research at IHS, says that the reasons for the iPad's success are pretty obvious: It's the most attractive and user-friendly tablet on the market today.

“The combination of a good-looking device, well-designed applications, video, books and music has provided consumers with an easy-to-use product,” she says. “It's proving to be a challenge for the company's competitors to replicate.”

And even when Android tablets were at their peak late last year, they couldn’t hold a candle to iPad sales. iSuppli’s previous report released in February found that Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter of 2011, more than triple the 3.9 million Kindle Fires shipped by Amazon. The Kindle Fire’s 14 percent market share in the fourth quarter of 2011 made it the only Android tablet to crack even a 10 percent market share as offerings from Samsung, Asus and Barnes & Noble were all stuck in the single digits.

Research firm Gartner last year predicted that Apple would hold the top position in the tablet market for the foreseeable future, although the company projected that its total share would fall to 45 percent by 2015. The iPad has also been making headway in the enterprise market, as a survey released last quarter by ChangeWave showed that iPads accounted for a whopping 84 percent of planned enterprise tablet purchases in the second quarter of 2012. No other major tablet manufacturer could crack 10 percent in the ChangeWave survey, as Samsung (8 percent of planned tablet purchases), Amazon (6 percent) and HP (4 percent) were all left in the dust comparatively.

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