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ipad_boxesApple have enjoyed lucrative success in the tablet market, largely thanks to being one of the first to enter the market (after “2001: A Space Odyssey”) and designing an innovative and rigid platform. It’s sales were probably also helped by the success of the iPhone before it.

However, recent trends suggest this dominance may be coming to an end, or at least causing a dent in their engrossed sales. Irrespective of Steve Jobs’ quip that the iPad’s market share was more than 90% last year[1], other statistics suggest that come the end of this year and by the start of next year, Apple will struggle to keep up this dominance.

That being said, this may not be too surprising given the success of the tablet. Other companies were sure to want to have a piece and this would have the necessary effect of decreasing the lead’s market share. Samsung have already started to mount their counter-offensive in the Asian continent, with sales of their Samsung tablet amassing a quite astonishing 85% market share in India between November 2010 and March 2011[2]. Although as a rule, Apple does less well in Asian continents as opposed to the USA or western Europe.

That aside, given Apple’s general dominance, the figure is still telling. UBS’ current iPad market share estimation for 2011 is 63%, falling to 58% estimation for 2012[3]. This is still of course a large proportion of the market, and only an estimation. However, lowered estimations come off the back of lowered sales and lowered demand for the product, and this is usually due to other products taking the mantle.

It is, however, also a worrying trend for Apple, especially considering how the Android is now the market leader for smartphones[4], having started behind Apple in the pecking order. Not only is Android the market leader, it’s even pulling away from it’s competitors. Apple will still claim that their iPhones still sell more than any other phone but with this recent emergence and the uncompromising success of the Samsung Galaxy S II, it’s hard to see this remaining the same for much longer.

Even otherwise alienated tablets such as HP’s TouchPad have enjoyed recent success after a dismal start[5]. Although the end is nigh for this product, the fact it sold the amount it did and received the amount of requests it did after the initial batch was sold shows there is an audience for a tablet that isn’t the iPad; just like how there is an audience for a smartphone that isn’t the iPhone. Even when that smartphone could be considered to be a replica of the iPhone[6].

This then in turn probably explains Apple’s determination in the courts with their lawsuits against Samsung products and why they are so furiously chasing it now. It is unlikely that Apple ever really expected to get what they filed for in these suits. Instead, it was more likely to be a stop-gap to halt the march of the Samsung techno-army which is claiming more and more territory day by day.

References:
[1] Business Insider – Steve Jobs wasn’t lying: Apple’s iPad Market Share was really more than 90% last year.
[2] DNA India – Samsung blows Apple away in tab war.
[3] Apple Insider – UBS up 2011 iPad estimate to 37.9M, 63% market share.
[4] Phandriod – Andriod tops Comscore’s US Market Share chart.
[5] HP “The Next Bench” – More TouchPads on the way.
[6] T3 – Dutch court injunction bans Samsung Galaxy S II sales.

Image courtesy of 9to5mac