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Apple iPad will maintain 80 per cent tablet share

Bean and chip counters at analysis outfit IDC reckon Apple will maintain its mammoth share of the tablet pie, despite an avalanche of wannabe devices muscling in on the market it practically invented.

In a report published today, IDC said that Apple's extraordinary 93 per cent share of the tablet shipments had slipped a little to 73 per cent, principally because of the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy tab in the last quarter of 2010.

It's important to note, however, that the figures are based on shipments rather than sales and, as Steve Jobs reported at his recent 'surprise' appearance at the iPad launch event, Apple has sold pretty much every one of the 15 million units it had shipped at the time.

We're not suggesting that Samsung has piles of inventory sitting around gathering dust, but the Korean company is staying uncharacteristically quiet about its sales figures, even in the face of some disparaging reports.

"Strong holiday sales of media tablets were in line with projections and strong consumer interest in the category while device vendors scrambled to offer products competitive with Apple's iPad and now iPad 2," said IDC veepee Loren Loverde. "Media Tablets are on pace to reach shipments of roughly 50 million units in 2011."

IDC defines a media tablet as a device with a screen between four and 14 inches running lightweight operating systems like iOS or Android, and powered by ARM or x86 processors.

The report also says that Samsung's forthcoming 10-inch Galaxy tab and Motorola's Xoom, both of which are currently seen as the only viable alternatives to Apple's recently announced iPad 2, will struggle to maintain market share as more competitors enter the market.

The iPad will continue to gobble up between 70 and 80 per cent of sales according to IDC's crystal ball gazing.