Apple, Android To Duke It Out For Another 5 Years In Tablet Market
May 4, 2012

Apple, Android To Duke It Out For Another 5 Years In Tablet Market

Michael Harper for

If Apple´s numbers have anything to do with it, the tablet market stands to grow exponentially. You may remember Apple´s 11.8 million iPads sold in their first quarter of 2012; three million of which were sold during launch weekend alone.

All told, Apple has been able to sell 67 million iPads since they were first launched in 2010.

Some of Apple´s largest competitors have even turned their attention to the tablet market, though they have yet to see the same kind of success.

So, it´s no surprise the latest forecast from NPD DisplaySearch shows this trend towards tablet-based computing will continue to surge ahead, eventually taking over the personal computer market.

According to NPD, shipments of tablet devices are expected to rocket from 81.6 million units in 2011 to 424.9 million units in 2017. By their calculations, tablets will out-ship PC´s by 2016. NPD attributes this growth not only to sheer demand, but also the evolution of features and diversification of operating systems to run on these devices.

“So far in this relatively young product category, the tablet PC market has been dominated by Apple and has tended to include a number of competing products that are similarly configured to the iPad,” said Richard Shim, NPD´s DisplaySearch Senior Analyst.

“However, as the market matures and competitors become better attuned to consumer preferences and find opportunities to break new ground, we expect the landscape to change dramatically, giving consumers more choices, which will drive demand for more devices.”

Noting the Amazon Kindle Fire, the report also said an effect of such diversification could be the adoption of a “razor/razor blade” model, referring to Amazon´s extremely thin margins on their tablet offering.

NPD also notes the entry of other companies into the tablet market will increase investments into the supply chain, thus adding more opportunities for growth.

While Apple has clearly taken a wide and early lead in this market, NPD´s research shows this will not always be the case. Currently, Apple holds nearly 75% of the tablet market. Should NPD be correct, Apple will peak in terms of market share next year, beginning a steady slip to just over 50%, losing ground to Google´s Android. Microsoft´s RT OS is expected to gain some ground as well, though only to the order of 7.5% in 2017.

NPD also notes a growth in the number of AMOLED screens, which are used in non-Apple devices, noting 30% of tablets in 2017 will feature such a screen.

While this market will see some tremendous growth, it looks like the two largest players will still be Android and iOS for the next 5 years.

Should Apple be worried about ending up with more than 50% of the market within 5 years? NPD is a consulting firm which specializes in the display supply chain, so it´s unclear if this report takes into consideration Apple´s push into the education market, as well as their decision to continue selling older versions of the iPad.

Either way, it looks like this fight between Apple and Android could continue for another 5 years. Time to grab the popcorn.