Apple's iPad will help drive 53.5 million tablet shipments in 2011, according to a July 8 note from research firm IDC.
IDC is raising its previous projection of 50.4 million units for the year, despite some first-quarter softness due to a sluggish economy and other factors. It noted that iPad shipments for the quarter were below expectations, but that Apple continues to hold a comfortable lead over other manufacturers, whose strategy of selling tablets via carriers isn't gaining hoped-for traction among consumers.
Nonetheless, Android shows clear signs of establishing a foothold in the tablet market, with the operating system present on 34 percent of devices.
"Like the PC market, Media Tablets had a bit of a challenging quarter in Q1, as concerns about general macroeconomic issues and the post-holiday letdown took a toll on demand," Bob O'Donnell, IDC's vice president of clients and displays, wrote in a July 8 statement. "We expect the rest of the year to be much stronger, but we believe vendors who continue to focus on the telco channel for distribution will face serious challenges."
Despite that toxic combination of lowered consumer demand, dampened economy and supply-chain constraints, IDC believes that the tablets slated to hit the market in the second half of 2011 will prove competitive. "The market will sell close to 53 million units for the year and continue to grow long-term," Jennifer Song, a research analyst for IDC, also wrote in a July 8 statement.
Other analysts seem to agree on other tablet manufacturers' weakness relative to the iPad.
In a July 7 research note issued by Canaccord Genuity, analyst T. Michael Walkley and his co-authors suggested that the iPad 2's price point is making it difficult for rival tablets to compete in a profitable way. "Our checks indicate both the Motorola Xoom and RIM Playbook have not sold well at current price points, as we believe competing tablets must sell at a substantial discount to the iPad 2," they wrote.
Their research note estimates Apple's share of the tablet market at 56 percent in 2011, followed by Samsung with 12 percent and Asus with 5 percent. LG Electronics, Motorola and Research In Motion are all given 3 percent of the market, followed by HTC with 2 percent. Although Amazon.com has yet to release a tablet, the note pegs its 2011 share at 5 percent. Nor do those percentages change much for 2012, although Apple loses 5 percent of its overall share to rival manufacturers.
During a June 6 presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, company executives claimed that more than 200 million devices are running iOS, including the iPad.