Apple’s iPad wins again

It is almost funny to watch Apple’s competitors fall all over themselves as they attempt to replicate the iPad experience.

While Android Honeycomb is certainly a step forward, the tablet-specific OS still has a long way to go before it can realistically challenge Apple in the U.S. market.

Such a scenario probably won’t happen until Google whips up its Ice Cream Sandwich, which Mountain View believes will put an end to fragmentation and help unify the Android experience across multiple form factors, including tablets, smartphones and perhaps even PCs at some point.

But in the meantime, Apple’s iPad commands the highest satisfaction rating of all tablet sellers amongst U.S. consumer, along with a (predictably) high degree of loyalty.

During a recent IHS survey, tablet owners were asked how likely they would be to recommend their device to friends or family members.

more than 80% of Apple owners rated their tablet at 8 or higher on the recommendation scale. Fewer than 1 percent gave a rating of less than 5.

In addition, 79.2% of tablet owners confirmed they possessed an Apple-branded product that was either an iPad or iPad 2. A full 61% said they would stick to the same brand for their next tablet purchase, while more than half indicated they were planning a purchase or would definitely buy another tablet during the next 12 months.

Amongst likely purchasers of tablets, more than 50% said they probably would buy an Apple-branded product. In this regard, Apple massively outperformed all the competition, with Dell coming in a distant second at just 11%.

“Apple’s competitors in the tablet market already are facing major challenges in offering products that can match the iPad’s combination of optimized hardware, software, operating system, applications, content and app store,” IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

“Now they are facing the reality that consumers in the key U.S. market really love their iPads, with owners expressing satisfaction with Apple’s products in a variety of key measures.”

According to Alexander, Apple’s market position is  further solidified by the fact that iPad owners will look towards Cupertino for future tablet purchases. 

“With the iPad dominating tablet sales in the United States and worldwide, this high level of consumer satisfaction commanded by Apple represents a major barrier to entry for new competitors.

“This validates the IHS forecast that Apple will account for the majority of tablet sales through the year 2012, and that it will remain the top-ranked seller of such devices at least through the year 2015,” she added.