iPad momentum leads tablet market

Apple is projected to increase its iPad shipments at a faster rate than previously estimated – causing the global media tablet market to exceed growth expectations over the next few years. 

According to IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander, worldwide tablet shipments are currently on track to hit 60 million units in 2011, up 245.9% from 17.4 million in 2010.

“All the momentum in the media tablet market is with Apple right now. The competition can’t seem to field a product with the right combination of hardware, marketing, applications and content to match up with the iPad,” Alexander told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.

“Furthermore, Apple’s patent litigation is serving to slow or complicate competitors’ entry into some key regional markets. With Apple lapping its competitors, many of whom are still struggling to get out of the starting gate, this remains a one-horse race.”

Indeed, Apple is set to ship 44.2 million iPads in 2011, with shipments pegged to reach 120.1 million units in 2015, up from the previous outlook of 97.9 million.

As such, Apple’s iPad will comprise 74% of media tablet shipments in 2011 and 43.6% in 2015. Meaning, Apple is expected to account for the majority of tablet shipments through the year 2013.

Alexander also noted that Apple’s continued dominance reflects the inability of competitors to mirror the iPad’s success – prompting IHS to reduce its shipment outlook for alternative tablets.

“The latest and most dramatic example of the struggles of Apple’s tablet rivals came last week with Hewlett-Packard’s announced exit from the tablet space and instead review opportunities to license its Web OS software to others,” said Alexander. 

“[In addition], makers of tablets using Android and other operating systems are encountering slower-than-expected sales for their products and facing other challenges, including lagging development of content and applications for their products.”

The analyst added that Apple’s tablet sales are expected to get another significant boost sometime in the first quarter of 2012, with the introduction of the iPad 3 and its high-res Retina display. 

“Apple may take a page from the iPhone handbook and offer both the second and third generations of the iPad for a period of time… This would allow Apple to compete on price using the iPad 2 – while simultaneously differentiating based on innovation with its new-generation product.”