Apple dominating tablet market (for now)

iPad had 95 percent market share in third quarter; Android slips

No doubt, Apple owns the tablet space with its iPad. But Android is coming, its small third-quarter decline notwithstanding. Research firm Strategy Analytics on Tuesday released data showing Apple with 95 percent of tablet sales in the quarter ended September 30. Meanwhile, Android's share of the market slipped to 2.3 percent from 2.9 percent.

Apple got a big jump on the tablet market when it launched the iPad in April. However, after a delay, competitors are beginning to roll out their own tablets. Samsung unveiled its Android-powered Galaxy Tab in early September, while HTC Corp., Dell and Motorola also have Android tablets in the works. U.S. wireless companies will begin selling the Galaxy Tab next week. In addition, Hewlett-Packard, Research in Motion and Microsoft are coming out with tablets, as are Acer and Nokia. "We expect Android's share to rise in the fourth quarter as more models, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, enter the market," SA analyst Neil Mawston said in a statement. Overall, global tablet sales in the third quarter were 4.4 million, a 26 percent increase over the 3.5 million units shipped in the second quarter. Gartner has predicted a tripling of tablet sales in 2011 to 54.8 million units. So the rising tide will help most tablet manufacturers over the next year or so. But how will market share shake out in 2011? Clearly Apple won't retain 95 percent of the tablet market, but what can we expect a year from now? Will Apple be down to 70 percent, 60 percent, or lower? Feel free to make your predictions.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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