The arc of development of the iPad seems to be a lot like the iPhone. Each device re-imagines and reinvents an existing industry segment – smartphones and tablets, respectively. Each has settled into a dominant position against the other players.
One question is whether the dominance is permanent, or whether the smart folks working for the other companies – many of which are building devices on the Android platform – will catch up. One influential organization, Gartner, has dreamed up an answer for how long Apple will hold more than half the market: 2015.
Even at that date, iOS will be in first place, with 47 percent of the tablet market. It's interesting to note that the tablet operating system market is a two-team race. While Gartner has iOS shrinking from last year until 2015 (83.9 percent, 68.7 percent, 63.5 percent, 47.1 percent), it has Android rising (14.2 percent, 19.9 percent, 24.4 percent, 38.6 percent). The graphic, which doesn't account for 2013 and 2014, has the nascent QNX OS as the highest market share for any non-Apple or Android quarter, with 10 percent in 2015.
Gartner suggests that competitors are making a key tactical error. Says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner:
Seeing the response from both consumers and enterprises to the iPad, many vendors are trying to compete by first delivering on hardware and then trying to leverage the platform ecosystem. Many, however, are making the same mistake that was made in the first response wave to the iPhone, as they are prioritizing hardware features over applications, services and overall user experience. Tablets will be much more dependent on the latter than smartphones have been, and the sooner vendors realize that the better chance they have to compete head-to-head with Apple.
PCMag.com has posted what seems like a follow-up to the Gartner research. It asks analysts how long they think Apple's dominance will endure. Sascha Segan, lead mobile analyst for PCMag.com, suggests it will be until a vendor releases a “finished feeling PC.” Jon Peddie, the principal analyst at the firm bearing his name, thinks HP is the only threat. The company, he says, can match Apple in offering a complete soup-to-nuts experience.
The piece is comprehensive. Next up is Rhonda Alexander, the director of monitor research for IHS iSuppli. She says that the firm has moved the date for crossover to 2013 and may move it out further. IDC Research Director for Mobile Connected Devices Susan Kevorkian thinks Apple will dominate beyond the forecast period. Finally, Rob Enderle, an IT Business Edge blogger and principal analyst at the Enderle Group, says that there is no “credible threat yet to Apple's dominance in the tablet market.”
Some folks even are positioning the iPad as a replacement for the PC. ZDNet's Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes a nice post on the topic. His answer is no, and provides some compelling reasons and even suggests that Android is closer than Apple to winning the title. But, in the bigger picture, the fact that the question is being raised means two things: The primacy of the PC is ending and the category re-energized by Apple is at least in the discussion as the heir apparent.