Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad catalyzed the media tablet market in 2010, causing handset and computer makers to come up with their own tablet strategies, many of which will be borne out in 2011. Despite the onslaught of competition, we predict the iPad (or the iPad 2) will stay on top in 2011.
The main reason is due to the massive lead Apple commands. Apple gobbled up 95 percent of the tablet market in the third quarter of 2010, according to Strategy Analytics. Clearly, that number is going to fall in 2011, but not enough to leave Apple with anything less than the majority of the market.
Of course there will be substantial competition. Samsung, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), Motorola (NYSE:MOT), Hewlett-Packard, LG and others all hope to find tablet success. Many companies are expected use version 3.0, dubbed "Honeycomb," of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform for their tablet offerings. But, as a Gartner analyst recently pointed out, there might simply be more supply than demand in the tablet market next year, leaving many tablet competitors on the margins of the market.
Some tablet competitors will shine as long as they can deliver unique user experience and value proposition. RIM's PlayBook might be especially attractive to enterprise users. Motorola's forthcoming Android tablet might be linked to home entertainment, thanks to the combination of the company's handset and set-top box businesses. Software and a compelling value proposition will help tablets stand out in 2011, but none will have as much impact or generate as many sales as the iPad.