Apple will lose its overwhelming dominance of the consumer tablet space within the next three years, according to a prediction from analyst Jack Gold.
His research note also predicts that Microsoft will own roughly 10 percent of the consumer tablet market by that 2014-2015 timeframe, beating out Research In Motion's QNX operating system with less than 10 percent but losing out to iOS (30 percent) and Android (50 percent).
In the enterprise space, Microsoft will occupy closer to 15 percent of the tablet market, while QNX hovers at around 10 percent-suggesting that both RIM and Microsoft will continue to maintain their customer allegiance among businesses. Apple's iOS is a clear winner in that arena, however, with 40 percent, followed by Android with 30 percent.
"By 2014-15 we expect Android tablets to acquire a majority share of the consumer market as the number of vendors and variety of models overwhelm the iPad," Gold wrote in a Nov. 1 research note accompanying the data. "But iPad will continue to hold the largest share of the enterprise market where specialized features built into some Android tablets will be valued but which will take longer to gain share."
He sees RIM's QNX market as primarily "security conscious industries and governments (while also being bedded in automotive and other products." A small percentage of the space will be held by "primarily Linux-derived and/or HTML5-centric OSes" such as Tizen and Chrome.
Presumably, Microsoft's standings in the tablet market will rise courtesy of Windows 8, which the company is expressly building to work on touch screens in addition to traditional PCs. The tablet-ready aspects of the operating system include a start screen with colorful tiles linked to applications, although users will also have the ability to flip to a "regular" desktop interface. Current rumors suggest that the first tablets running Windows 8 will debut sometime in late 2012.
Acer Chairman JT Wang is quoted in Taiwan-based DigiTimes Oct. 31 as saying that Windows 8 will allow Microsoft to gain market share. "In the past, Microsoft has been adding unnecessary functions to its operating system even after consumers already objected [to] such moves," he said, "but as Microsoft has already started seeing its problems and will implement changes into Windows 8, Taiwan's PC supply chain should benefit in the future."
For its part, RIM is prepping its new QNX-based operating system, BBX, for release sometime in the next few quarters. Its PlayBook tablet already utilizes an operating system based on QNX. Released earlier this year, the PlayBook failed to pose a substantial challenge to Apple's iPad, a fate shared by any number of Android-based competitors hitting the market. But Gold believes that will change.