A mountain to climb
We explained earlier that one of the reasons many other OEMs dragged their feet over making tablets this year was that they were waiting to see how the Apple iPad did. The obvious flaw in that strategy is that it surrenders the initiative and a new report from iSuppli suggests it's going to be pretty hard to claw back.
The iPad will account for three quarters of tablet sales this year, but iSuppli reckons that will only fall to 70 percent next year, after all the Android tablets hit the market, and will still be nearly 62 percent in 2012.
"Although the iPad has been on the market for only a few months, powerful interests throughout the technology business are devoting enormous resources to challenge and topple Apple's domination in this fast-growing marketplace," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli.
"However, if recent history is any lesson, it will take some time for these companies to get their products to market, longer for them to offer necessary software support and infrastructure, and an even lengthier period to begin to rival the overall user experience Apple is able to deliver."
Alexander is referring to the iPhone as the precedent for her prediction, and it did take the rest of the market around three years to come up with smartphones that deserved to be compared to Apple's epoch-defining innovation.
But surely one major difference between now and then is the ready availability of a tried and tested Android, which enables any OEM to furnish their new tablet with not only a trusted OS, but a rapidly maturing app development community and store.
That's not to say that we're betting against Apple maintaining its dominance of the tablet category, but we don't think the present situation is too analogous to 2007, not least because the iPad is not generally considered as revolutionary as the first iPhone was.