More than 4 million tablets shipped during the third quarter, and the lion's share belonged to Apple, Strategy Analytics reported Nov. 2.
With big-name competitors such as Samsung, Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard still to join the race, 95.5 percent of the worldwide market was claimed by the Apple iPad, up from 94.3 percent the quarter before.
"Global tablet shipments grew 26 percent sequentially to reach 4.4 million units in [the third quarter of 2010]," Peter King, a director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "Apple was the clear market leader during the quarter, capturing an impressive 95 percent share with the iPad and beating Android into second place."
Dell began selling its Android-running Streak tablet (which, at 5 inches, some argue is more of a large smartphone) in August, and Archos, Huawei, Haleron, Eken and several other lesser-known brands also currently offer Android tablets. The majority of these feature 7-inch displays-a form factor Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently said will be "dead on arrival."
Nonetheless, RIM has a planned 7-incher, the BlackBerry PlayBook, expected to arrive in early 2011. The PlayBook runs an OS based on QNX technology, not Android, and an October ChangeWave survey found it to be second in attracting consumer interest, after the iPad.
Also soon arriving, though, will be Android-running offerings that will be more likely than the Ekens of the world to steal a bit of market share from Apple. Most notably, the Samsung Galaxy Tab will be offered by all four of the major U.S. operators-Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile-in addition to U.S. Cellular. And PC maker Acer also has an Android tablet planned, in addition to models that will run Microsoft's Windows platform.
Android-running tablets accounted for 2.9 percent of the global tablet market share during the third quarter-up from 2.3 percent the quarter before. "We expect Android's share to rise in the fourth quarter as more models ... enter the market," stated Strategy Analytics. The firm found the United States to be "by far" the leading tablet market, but reports that demand is emerging in Western Europe and Asia.
"The tablet wars are up and running," Neil Mawston, also a Strategy Analytics director, said in a statement. "Apple has quickly leveraged its famous brand, an extensive retail presence and user-friendly design to develop the tablet segment into a multi-billion-dollar global business. Android, Microsoft, MeeGo, WebOS, BlackBerry and other platforms are trailing in Apple's wake and they already have much ground to make up."
ABI Research has estimated that the total number of tablets that will ship in 2010 will exceed 11 million units.