Apple will increase its iPad shipments in 2011, according to a new prediction from research firm IHS, which also lowered its shipment outlook for rival tablets.
IHS' research report arrives days after Hewlett-Packard made the dramatic and unexpected decision to terminate its TouchPad tablet, previously regarded by some as a viable iPad competitor. Now the iPad's main rivals include Research In Motion's BlackBerry-themed PlayBook, along with a host of Google Android tablets.
"All the momentum in the media tablet market is with Apple right now," Rhoda Alexander, senior manager of tablet and monitor research for IHS, wrote in an Aug. 24 research note. "The competition can't seem to field a product with the right combination of hardware, marketing, applications and content to match up with the iPad."
Apple's zeal for firing off patent lawsuits against its rivals "is serving to slow or complicate competitors' entry into some key regional markets," she added. "This remains a one-horse race."
Taking all that into consideration, IHS has raised its iPad shipment forecast from 43.7 million to 44.2 million units in 2011. The firm expects Apple will occupy 74 percent of tablet shipments in 2011 and 43.6 percent in 2015, significantly up from its previous guesses for those dates.
Overall tablet shipments are expected to hit 60 million units in 2011, up some 245.9 percent from 17.4 million in 2010. "Apple Inc. is set to increase its iPad shipments at a faster rate than previously expected in 2011 and beyond," read IHS' research note, "causing the global media tablet market to exceed growth expectations during the next few years."
A recent report in The Wall Street Journal suggested Apple plans on manufacturing the first "iPad 3" units this fall, with an eye toward an early 2012 release. The Aug. 19 article added that the next iPad "is expected to feature a high-resolution display-2048 by 1536, compared with 1024 by 768 in the iPad 2." The screen will apparently retain the same 9.7-inch size of previous editions.
In June, Reuters also paraphrased Taiwan's Economic Daily as saying the iPad 3 would launch with "image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad 2."
Apple will issue iOS 5, a broad-based update of its mobile operating system, sometime this fall. It is a broad-based update: in addition to Newsstand, new features include a refined notifications screen, boosted interoperability with Twitter, and an "iMessenger" conversation platform seemingly designed as a direct competitor to BlackBerry Messenger.