Apple to own tab market through 2015, with apps making the difference

by Howard Wolinsky

Android OS from Google (GOOG) may be making rapid inroads on smartphones, but Apple (APPL) iOS still will own the tab market through 2015, Gartner is projecting.

Apple’s iOS will have 69 percent of the tab market this year and will hold on to 47 percent of the market in 2015, continuing to outpace the growing pack of competitors. Apple owned more than 80 percent of the market last year.

Users may love the iPad hardware, but the ecosystem created with the apps makes the difference Gartner said.

Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said many tab rivals competitors “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.”

What about Android?

Gartner expects Google’s Android OS to increase its worldwide share of the media tablet market from 20 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2015.

Google has not opened Honeycomb, its first OS version dedicated to tablets, to third parties. Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner, said this could result in a slower decline in prices as seen in the smartphone market and could cap market share.

Research In Motion (RIMM) with QNX will be third in 2015 with 10 percent of the tab market.

The National Business Review said: “Although it loses market share every year, Gartner sees iPad staying ahead until at least 2015 - which would give Apple more legs than the mobile phone market, where Android pulled ahead inside two years.”

Jennifer Valentino-DeVries said in Wall Street Journal: “Any projections that look so far in the future should be taken with a grain of salt, especially when they concern such a rapidly changing industry. Apple Insider pointed out recently that Gartner has radically revised its predictions about the smartphone market over the past couple of years. But the predictions offer some interesting theories about how the tablet market will pan out.”