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IHS revises iPad outlook, says Apple will control tablet market till 2013

IHS iSuppli has reissued its report on the future of tablets, adding additional pessimism to competitors' prospects for selling against the iPad while increasing its optimism behind Apple's ability to build enough iPads to own tablets through 2013, a year longer than it originally expected.

In its revised report on "media tablets," the research firm bumped up its overall growth predictions for all shipments, stating that 60 million tablets will ship in 2011, 1.1 million more than it originally stated. In 2015, it now expects annual shipments to reach 275.3 million, up from 262.1 million in its previous report.

Half of the additional million tablets to ship this year are expected to be sold by Apple, with IHS stating that the iPad maker will ship 44.2 million units within the year. In 2015, the firm now sees Apple selling 120.1 million iPads, an increase of more than 22 million iPads over its previous prediction despite increasing its prediction of total tablet production by only 13.2 million.

That also means IHS has increased Apple's expected share of the market this year from 64 to 74 percent, and its expected share in 2015 from 32 to 43.6 percent of all tablets.

"IHS now believes Apple will account for the majority of tablet shipments through the year 2013, one year longer than the previous outlook," the firm stated. It did not articulate reasons why Apple's share of the tablet market is expected to shrink.

Apple's majority share among iPod competitors never eroded significantly, the company's majority position in iTunes digital media hasn't been overtaken, its sales of Apps haven't met any challenge from alternative smartphone software stores, and the company is now unmatched among so called "ultrabook" competitors with the MacBook Air, with no signs pointing to an eventual loss of that market either.

IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander wrote that the tablet market "remains a one-horse race," noting that "all the momentum in the media tablet market is with Apple right now."

Alexander said competitors "can’t seem to field a product with the right combination of hardware, marketing, applications and content to match up with the iPad. Furthermore, Apple’s patent litigation is serving to slow or complicate competitors’ entry into some key regional markets."

The report also noted that "makers of tablets using Android and other operating systems are encountering slower-than-expected sales for their products and facing other challenges, including lagging development of content and applications for their products."