Apple’s patent litigation is serving to slow competitors’ entry into some key regional markets
Apple is set to step up its iPad shipments in 2011 and beyond, causing the global media tablet market to exceed growth expectations during the next few years, according to data from the IHS iSuppli Display Materials & Systems Service.
IHS lowered its forecast earlier this year due to Apple’s initial iPad 2 production and supply challenges.
With those supply issues resolved, Apple will ship 44.2 million iPads in 2011, up from the previous forecast of 43.7 million.
IHS also adjusted its iPad forecast upward, with shipments expected to reach 120.1 million units in 2015, up from the previous outlook of 97.9 million.
Apple is expected to account for 74% of media tablet shipments in 2011 and 43.6% in 2015.
IHS now believes Apple will account for the majority of tablet shipments through the year 2013, one year longer than the previous outlook.
IHS Tablet and Monitor Research senior manager Rhoda Alexander said all the momentum in the media tablet market is with Apple right now.
"The competition can’t seem to field a product with the right combination of hardware, marketing, applications and content to match up with the iPad," Alexander said.
"Furthermore, Apple’s patent litigation is serving to slow or complicate competitors’ entry into some key regional markets. With Apple lapping its competitors, many of whom are still struggling to get out of the starting gate, this remains a one-horse race."
As a result, IHS has reduced its shipment outlook for alternative tablets at the same time that the iPad forecast was adjusted.
Apple is increasing its focus on information technology (IT) support staff, in response to growing interest in its products from corporate markets.
The company’s tablet sales are expected to get another boost in the first quarter of 2012, with the launch of the iPad 3 with the high-resolution Retina display.
IHS believes Apple may take a page from the iPhone handbook and offer both the second and third generations of the iPad for a period of time.
This would allow Apple to compete on price using the iPad 2 — while simultaneously differentiating based on innovation with its new product.
Over the longer term, Apple will benefit from its diversified market strategy that markets the iPad at the consumer, education and corporate segments.
This will allow Apple to mitigate the impact of seasonal sales swings in the consumer market.
The expansion into China also will increase iPad sales in the first quarter, during the Lunar New Year holiday season.
With the first quarter normally a slow sales season outside of Asia, the China sales will serve to smooth out the normal first-quarter sales dip suffered by electronics makers following the Christmas selling season in the West.