Apple's iPad to remain king of tablets: researcher

A salesman displays an Apple iPad during its launch in Brussels July 23, 2010. The iPad became available to the public through Apple retailers in Belgium on Friday. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc’s iPad will not face a serious competitor until next year, and when tablet rivals do emerge, they will have a hard time matching iPad’s customized applications, according to a report from market research firm iSuppli.

The iPad, which likely will account for nearly three quarters of worldwide tablet shipments this year, will hold at least 70 percent of the market in 2011 and 62 percent by 2012, iSuppli said in its report on Wednesday.

Apple sold 3.3 million iPads last quarter, which is one of the best starts for a consumer electronic device.

Apple competitors like Hewlett Packard Co, Dell Inc and Lenovo Group are rolling out Android and Windows 7-based tablet devices to rival the 9.7-inch iPad, but they will struggle to compete with iPad’s mix of hardware, software, operating system and applications, the firm said.

“It’s still unlikely that any of the competitors will be able to equal the overall performance experience of the iPad,” said Rhoda Alexander, the firm’s director of monitor research.

Among other possible rivals, iSuppli cited rumors that Canada’s Research in Motion is trying to enter the tablet market with its recent purchase of the domain name “BlackPad.”

It dismissed reports that Google will release a Chrome OS tablet on Nov 26, saying “any touch-enabled Chrome based device would be more likely to appear in 2011 or beyond.”

Reporting by Liana B. Baker. Editing by Robert MacMillan