Android Tablets to Outpace iPad in Five Years as Sony, Microsoft Loom

It is inevitable that Apple's (news, site) iPad market share will decline as more rivals enter the market, but recent estimates still give the single device a five-year advantage against its horde of competitors.

Tablets, Mobiles: Two Different Games

While there is vigorous trench warfare in the mobile market, with constant innovation, improvement and aggressive marketing, it seems that whatever anyone does, the iPad keeps happily sailing into the distance in terms of sales, market awareness and consumer preference.

BlackBerry's PlayBook seems to have come and gone, HP's TouchPad met with reasonable reviews. Sony's upcoming S1 tablet and the unique S2 clamshell might look great, but may not do much better; will the ability to play old PlayStation games really help it sell?

Android devices have suffered due to the poorly featured and specced first generation of tablets, and while the "Gingerbread" OS tablets are now competing, no one is claiming mega sales. Finally, we all await the Windows 8-powered generation of tablets, though that doesn't seem to be stopping people from buying iPads by the million.

The Tipping Point

Now we have an Informal forecast that reckons Android will finally catch the iPad after 2015, when both platforms will meet at around the 37% to 38% market share point. While that might sound like a mighty fall for Apple, which had a 75% share last year, it largely signals the commoditization of the market.

Apple could fight back with a cheaper, cut-down version of the iPad to battle huge numbers of Android-powered clones but, based on its recent financials, it has little need to. We still wait for the much-speculated budget iPhone that will help Apple complete at the lower end of the smartphone market.

Of course, by 2015, Apple or another player could have moved the market somewhere else -- wearable computing, holographics or something we haven't thought of -- and we'll just think of tablets as a nostalgic craze.