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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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?”

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 10% of the potential buyers of ‘new-age’ tablets are geeks and/or Apple haters.

    20% of the potential buyers of ‘new-age’ tablets are weak minded people easily led astray by geeks and/or Apple haters.

    Anyone predicting Apple having less than 70% tablet market share is a geek and/or Apple hater, or, more likely, a weak minded person easily led astray by geeks and/or Apple haters.

    1. I actually think there is a small–very small–window for the wanna-be slates to climb through, but only for about another 9 – 12 months, if they can come out with products that match Apple’s price and specs AND actually work–not like the Xoom. But I doubt that will happen. Also, with every new entry–Android, HPalm, RIMQnx and Win7/8–the public will get more confused and the iPad will stand out more and more.

      The Android, HPalm, RIMQnx and Win7/8 crowd have an incredibly steep and long climb in the next 12 months because they are all fighting for the same marketing dollars, shelf space, components, mindshare and retail distribution. Meanwhile Apple is pumping out millions of iPads per month.

      The battle is probably already over for slates, but in two years it will be obvious to everyone.

  7. 2016 not 2015 would more appropriate that is the five years away mark

    also from intuition alone you can see that apple with still have 80% at the very least by 2016 because of their headstart

  8. In 2015 there will be cheaper “good enough” tablets available for non premium buyers and iOS tablets will not have 50% market share in unit sales. But Apple will most likely still make the most money of all in the tablet business. And apart from offering the best and most desirable products, I believe that this is their main goal.

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