Gartner: Apple iOS to dominate tablet market through 2015, owning over 50% of market for next three years

Apple’s iOS will continue to own the majority of the worldwide media tablet through 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. Due to the success of Apple’s iPad, iOS will account for 69 percent of media tablet OSs in 2011, and represent 47 percent of the media tablet market in 2015.

Gartner analysts said Apple iPad did to the tablet PC market what the iPhone did to the smartphone market: re-invented it. A media tablet is not just a different form factor to perform the same tasks that can be done on a PC. Tablets deliver a richer experience around content consumption, thanks to the ecosystem they support. The richer the ecosystem, the stronger the pull for consumers.

“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,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “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.”

Google’s Android OS is forecast to increase its worldwide share of the media tablet market from 20 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2015 (see Table 1). Analysts said Google’s decision not to open up the Honeycomb, its first OS version dedicated to tablets, to third parties will prevent fragmentation, but it will also slow the price decline and ultimately cap market share.

“Volume will be driven by support from many players, the ecosystem of applications for tablets getting more competitive and some platform flexibility allowing lower price points,” said Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “The new licensing model Google has introduced with Honeycomb enables Google to drive more control, allowing only optimal tablet implementations that don’t compromise quality of experience. This might mean that prices will drop at a slower pace than what we have seen in the smartphone market.”

Gartner Worldwide Sales of Media Tablets to End Users by OS Estimates 2010-2015
Source: Gartner (April 2011)

With the migration of Blackberry devices to QNX – the OS used on the Blackberry PlayBook – in 2012, RIM will be able to offer users a consistent experience across its whole product portfolio and create a single developer community. While QNX is a strong platform that delivers on performance, graphics and multitasking features, Gartner analysts said success in the media tablet market will be driven by richness of ecosystem.

“It will take time and significant effort for RIM to attract developers and deliver a compelling ecosystem of applications and services around QNX to position it as a viable alternative to Apple or Android. This will limit RIM’s market share growth over the forecast period,” Ms. Milanesi said. “It will be mainly organizations that will be interested in RIM’s tablets because they either already have RIM’s infrastructure deployed or have stringent security requirements.”

Gartner analysts said platforms such as MeeGo and WebOS, which currently have a weak presence in the smartphone market, will have a limited appeal unless they can grow that business.

“Smartphone users will want to buy a tablet that runs the same operating system as their smartphone. This is so that they can share applications across devices as well as for the sense of familiarity the user interfaces will bring,” Ms. Milanesi said. “Vendors developing on Android should be prepared to see more cross brand ownership as some users might put OS over brand when it comes to the purchasing decision. Improvements on usability and brand recognition are the strongest differentiators they can focus on.”

A media tablet is a device based on a touchscreen display (typically with a multitouch interface) whose primary focus is the consumption of media. The devices have screens with a diagonal dimension that is over 5 inches and may include screens that are as large as is practical for handheld use, roughly up to 15 inches. The media tablet runs a lightweight OS such as Android and iOS that is more limited than, or a subset of, the traditional fully featured OS such as Windows.

Gartner’s detailed forecast is available in the report “Forecast: Media Tablets by Open Operating System, Worldwide, 2008-2015.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at

Source: Gartner, Inc.

MacDailyNews Note: We have iCal’ed this article and will revisit these figures annually, if not more frequently.


    1. Absolutely. We should call this the PNOOTA methodology – Pulling Numbers Out Of Their Asses. They have absolutely no basis for predicting that products and platforms that currently don’t even exist will achieve a given measure of success. (Maybe they’re assuming some hidden entropy process.)

      Imagine such an analysis for operating systems back in, say, 1993. They would likely have predicted declining estimates for DOS, increases for Windows, but also rapid growth for OS/2, BeOS, Mac OS, and desktop UNIX (including A/UX). And unlike Gartner’s current predictions, all of those at least existed at the time. There’s absolutely no foundation for Gartner’s predictions.

    2. What I don’t understand is their idea that iOS share would suddenly drop from over 60% to 47% after two years of dominance. By then Apple’s slate eco-system will be absolutely ginormous with hundreds, if not thousands of unique apps and peripherals that can’t be found anywhere else. If Apple retains >60% share for two more years, it will become exponentially more difficult for anyone to even think of gaining traction in the slate market.

      Contrast this scenario with the iPod dominance where anyone with half a brain could transfer their music library from an iPod to an iPod-wanna-be and peripheral gizmos weren’t that important. This time around there is much greater “lock-in.” You simply can’t transfer apps or most peripherals.

      1. Didn’t you hear? Apple locked in iPod users with copy protected AAC files that didn’t work on other digital music players, according to the ‘Plays for Sure’ manufactures.

    1. Samsung pushed 3 million of their Galaxy devices into the retail channels, and that’s the number Gartner is quoting. Nobody knows how many they actually sold to consumers, but even Samsung admitted that the number is significantly smaller than that.

  1. Analysts completely do not get what the App Store model has done to change the hardware landscape. I for one am not buying a bunch of apps for my iPhone, then my iPad then based on the previous 2015 numbers moving to WP7 and have to start over and repurchase all my apps but now still keeping my iPad. NO!! I am sticking with my “investment” and therefore sticking with iOS and will keep purchasing the hardware that works with my purchased apps. I understand they are hoping a lot on Nokia and the lower end market but, $50 for a phone that works with the same apps as my iPad is definitely worth it to me.

  2. im as much of an Apple fan as the next guy with a Lisa in the back room but I couldn’t help but notice the complete lack of anything windows on the list. Isn’t windows 8 ( or 9) supposed to be “tablet friendly”? I saw the “other” category but honestly unless they are predicting Kin-like responses to windows tablets (and that would have deserved a story all by itself) how can they predict these numbers?
    I’m curious what their past predictions have looked like.

    1. Windows 7 is *technically* tablet friendly in that it supports multi-touch but man have you used it?

      Its def an ‘after-thought’ in my opinion.

      Windows 8 is supposedly going to have the Metro interface from WinPhone7 built in for tablets but I don’t know.

      MS is coming in very late to the party and with Honeycomb being tablet optimized I can’t believe that a manufacturer would find Windows 8 a better deal than Android for a tablet.

  3. can’t wait to see the computer sales numbers from gartner, idc, etc. when they start classifying IPad as a computer. That should be interesting to see Apple leading in computer sales. That will really shake up the industry.

  4. So let me get this straight:

    Gartner Gas predicts:
    1) Windows Phone 7 market share will surpass iOS in 2015.
    2) iOS on tablets will retain top market share through 2015.

    Does anyone else detect a logical disconnect here?

    How to create your own Gartner market prediction!
    –> Just lean over and BLOW

  5. The joke is the prediction that Android will grow market share to 38% in 2015 and QNX to 10%. These are joke numbers as the projections are wildly optimistic.

    Let’s face it Android doesn’t even yet have a foothold in the tablet market with many failed attempts. Motorola sold 100,000 Xooms in a month. On the scale of things that would be 2% of Apple’s 15 million iPad sales per quarter. Google has a long hard hill to climb to even reach 10% in the next 12 months.

    As for RIM’s failed QNX experiment, 7″ tablets will be dead on arrival. 0% market share in 6 months climbing to maybe 1% after that if the corporate IT drones adopt it. But in the face of strong iPad adoption in Fortune 500 companies that looks like a long shot at best.

    Faulty analysis based on faulty assumptions about platform viability, some of which are vapourware that the moment.

  6. Wow! Apple is going to loose market share to weaker more expensive tablets with greater cost, poorer battery life, poorer user interface, fewer apps, … The most impressive part about this is that this writer can type while still dreaming.

    Never going to happen with these clowns. Yes, medical devices, fixed in the car dashboard tablet entertainment systems, wall mounted tablet home security systems, … What ever new devices that Apple doesn’t want and that developers don’t interface Apple devices into will add to and expand this tablet market. This is over and Apple owns this tablet market. These people can’t see what the iPad 3 will be or how the billion dollar server farm will expand the iPads use and appeal. Clueless!

  7. Here’s a thought guys. Forget about the idiotic share #s for a minute. Even if Gartner is halfway correct Apple will sell 130K of iOS media tablets in 2015. That’s 10x of last year. In revenue terms that would be ~500×130,000,000 = 63,000,000,000 or $63 Billion.
    I’m assuming the average price will go down. That’s a huge amount of revenue from one product.
    Unlike the iPod which built it’s own market, the iPad will be cutting into the PC market in a huge way. Unless M$ do succeed with getting mobile windows they are going to lose a large chunk of their revenue from OS sales. Plus this will have a knock on effect for the Office business.

  8. Good luck with that extrapolation. I mean, I suppose Apple should consider themselves lucky since Gartner no longer says they’ll be a minority of the tablet market by 2015.

  9. I love how these analysts, the same analyst as last year claimed “this would be the year of competing tablets from other makers to Apple’s iPad.” So, I ask, “Where is the competition?”

  10. What’s with this 2015 obsession? Every analyst and their dog is talking about 2015 these days, usually in terms of how much the Apple share would have shrunk by then. The 2015 focus says a few things:
    1) They’ve given up on making a dent in Apple’s march for the next four years. 2015 has a nice, round feel to it, and it’s far enough into the future that everybody will forget about predictions made in 2011.
    2) Why would Apple suddenly start losing market share a few years down the line when the trend, which shows no sign of slowing down, is clearly in the opposite direction?
    3) “iPad killers” are getting slaughtered in the market with routine regularity these days. It is clear that unless someone comes up with an out-of-this-world competitor for iOS devices, Apple’s market share is not going anywhere but up. That REAL iPad killer had better be percolating right now in some secret lab for the 2015 predictions to come true.

  11. If iPad sales growth is outpacing iPod sales growth when launched, why would analysts not base their predictions on an iPod marketshare model, not based on smartphone marketshare. the iPad should enjoy 70-80% of the tablet marketshare for the next 5-10 years.

    To reach the Gartner numbers we should already be seeing huge growth in non-Appple tablets for apple to lose 15.2% marketshare in 2011. We’re not seeing that growth… then in 2012, the competitive growth decelerates 3 fold to (5.2%), but wait, then over the next 3 years, apple loses 16.4%? So the biggest single year of marketshare loss for the iPad is going to be 2011?

    Gartner=Clowns on this one.

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