Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad commands 83 percent of the U.S. tablet market share today, but that number will drop to 68 percent by 2014 as the device cedes share to Android, Microsoft Windows 8 and other tablets.
eMarketer said 33.7 million Americans will use a tablet device at least monthly by the end of this year, a boost of 158.6 percent over last year. The number of tablet users will rise to almost 90 million by 2014.
The interesting shift in this growth may be that of the iPad's market share. Data from eMarketer and researchers such as Gartner and IDC indicate iPad share has nowhere to go but down after commanding some 98 percent of market share in 2010.
eMarketer said Apple has sold 28 million iPad units in the U.S., but the number of iPad users will more than double from this year through 2014 to 60.8 million. Of course, as iPad's share of the tablet market grows, so the total tablet pie will also mightily expand.
iPad's U.S. share stands at 83 percent today, but that percentage will dip to 76.4 percent in 2012 and 71.2 percent in 2013 before settling at 68 percent by 2014, eMarketer claimed. That means that between now and 2014, other tablet platforms will nibble away at Apple lion's share of the tablet market.
What might some of those platforms and devices be? Android, obviously, and Windows 8 slates, when those devices rear their heads starting next year. Almost no one but Research in Motion is betting on BlackBerry PlayBook's making an impression.
In the short term, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook Android tablets may gobble some of Apple's share. Indeed, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster expects Amazon to sell as many as 4 million Fires through the fourth quarter, grabbing 18 percent of the tablet market very rapidly.
We're also at an interesting point in the tablet market. The niche is so nascent, that we really haven't seen a replacement cycle for iPads and other tablets yet.
"eMarketer believes that as tablet adoption continues, less growth will come from sharing and more from replacing older devices with new ones," the researcher noted in a statement Nov. 21. "Eventually, tablets may become more like smartphones, which typically have a single user and less sharing."
Interestingly, eMarketer said that demographic shifts are afoot in the nascent tablet sector. Women currently account for slightly less than half of tablet users, but the disparity in tablet usage between sexes will continue to shrink.
Perhaps the number of woman tablet users will soon outnumber the number of male tablet users. By 2014, 18 to 34 year olds will account for 34.8 percent of tablet users, while those ages 35 and up will account for 49.3 percent of the total.