According to the latest market assessment by IMS Research, Apple is expected to gain a significant share of the tablet market -- with strong pre-orders for iPad tablets and millions projected to ship in 2010.
Regardless, many other suppliers are introducing either e-reader or tablet products this year, with a fair share of these based on Google's Android operating system. IMS estimates that about 24 percent of the devices shipping in 2010 will be based on the Google Android OS.
Anna Hunt, principal analyst at IMS, says "The user interface and content that a tablet supplier brings to the table will likely influence purchase decisions just as much as hardware requirements."
Suppliers are realizing the importance of content and service and many are turning to the Android ecosystem to be able to offer the complete user experience and compete with Apple's integrated offering.
In addition to Android and Apple OS, Microsoft Windows 7 will also account for some share of the tablet market -- estimated by IMS at 10 percent of shipments in 2010 and expected to grow its share onward.
Right now many of the applications specifically designed for the iPad platform, which are starting to reach the iTunes App Store, are actually more expensive than apps for the iPhone OS platform.
This leaves an opportunity for competitive suppliers that can offer a tablet solution, such as the Kindle Wireless Reading Device, that is overall more price competitive for both the hardware and the content.
Ms. Hunt adds, "Over the next couple of years, we can expect a variety of tablet models that may not be able to run word processing software, but will offer a variety of web-based and multimedia applications for under $200 to the end user."
IMS Research forecasts that starting in 2012, over half of the tablets sold each year will be distributed via mobile and fixed carriers. These broadband service providers are expected to offer increasingly competitive service plans and up-front equipment subsidies to attract tablet purchasers and increase subscription revenues.