It's indisputable that Apple is the leader in the tablet market, whether it be for consumer or enterprise customers, with the iPad. Several reports in the last few months point towards what could be seen as inevitable shift to a more competitive market, especially as Google's Android OS continues to evolve and more devices become available.
See also: CNET: Android coming on strong in tablets, Q3 data shows
We could actually be seeing that shift occur much faster than expected, based on new research from Strategy Analytics. That latest report revealed that 17 million tablet units shipped during the third quarter of 2011, with iOS and Android accounting for a combined 94 percent share.
Although Apple was responsible for 67 percent of the share, Android jumped up to produce 27 percent of global tablet shipments in Q3 2011 -- rising twelve-fold from 2 percent last year.
Additionally, Digitimes previously reported that non-Apple tablet shipments are expected to surge in 2012, with Android accounting for 44-45 million units shipped next year and Apple sending off 54-55 million iPads at the same time.
Android has also become the de facto choice for a base mobile OS for tablet manufacturers not named Apple, especially now that WebOS has all but disappeared. With the dawn of Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and the Android-based Kindle Fire -- should it not crash and burn (pardon the pun) like some other hyped devices we've seen this year -- then maybe Android will grow even more rapidly in the next 12 months and give the tablet a dose of much-needed competition.
As for the market as a whole in the long term, iSuppli predicted that we’ll see 275.3 million media tablets units in 2015, which is far more optimistic than In-Stat’s expectation of 250 million by 2017.