Non-Apple tablet shipments expected to surge in 2012

Apple might be the supreme leader in the tablet market these days, but a new report suggests that it will face some bigger challenges next year.

Shipments of tablet PCs not made by Apple are expected to surge by 134 percent in 2012, according to DigiTimes.

That rise will be fueled by a number of contributing factors, including new and advanced chips from a handful of ARM suppliers (NVIDIA, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm).

The most obvious direct competitor would be Google as it rolls out the next version of its mobile operating system:

With Google set to launch its new Android operating system codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of 2011, while demand for iPad is approaching saturating, shipments of Android-based tablet PCs are expected to increase from 19-20 million units in 2011 to 44-45 million units in 2012, while Apple's iPad shipments will increase from 14-15 million units in 2010, to 35-36 million units in 2011, and to 54-55 million units in 2012.

Last week, DigiTimes reported that an estimated 40 million iPads will ship in 2011, securing 61 percent of the global tablet market share for Apple.

However, for competitors to present a serious challenge to Apple's dominance in this field, it's going to take more than just more internal bells and whistles to succeed. A recent study from research firm iSuppli argued that one of the reasons that Apple is so far ahead of the pack is that no one has been able to unveil a design that rivals that of the iPad.