Tablet computers based on Google's Android operating system will make up 15 percent of the worldwide market in 2011, nibbling at Apple's iPad share similar to the way Android smartphones gained on Apple's popular iPhone.
That's the prediction from IMS Research, which also expects Android tablets to command 28 percent of tablet share by 2015. Some 15 hardware makers will sell Android tablets, including Samsung, Dell, Motorola and Cisco.
Samsung has made the biggest bet on Android tablets to date. The company launched its Galaxy Tab on T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the United States, with a launch on AT&T set for Nov. 21.
Samsung expects to sell 1 million tablets in the 2010 holiday season alone.
"The availability of Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet via mobile carriers such as AT&T in the U.S. will quickly boost Google Android's presence in the tablet market," said IMS Research analyst Anna Hunt.
While Hunt did not address this specifically, Android will owe its rise to the iPad, which may command as much as 75 percent of the market or more by this time next year.
That tablet's popularity soared soon after it launched in April, selling millions of units within the first few months-4.19 million in the fourth quarter alone.
IMS' findings take on a more poignant appeal in the wake of the just-wrapped Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
At the show, moderators asked industry luminaries such as media mogul Peter Chernin, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski what they thought of the battle between Google and Apple for the mobile Web.
Genachowski said the new "apps economy" has created hundreds of thousands of jobs for software developers. That's particularly true for Apple's iOS platform, which has more than 300,000 apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad.