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Analyst: Apple's iPad to lead tablet market explosion for 'foreseeable future'

According to one analyst, the market for consumer tablets could top 215 million units by 2015, with the iPad expected to dominate the market's explosive growth.

Sanford Bernstein chip analyst Stacy Rasgon issued a 49-page white paper concerning the tablet market on Friday, Barrons reports. Rasgon expects tablets to "grow like wildfire" with a compounded annual growth rate of 66 percent.

The note found consumer interest to be "staggering," with 20 percent of individuals surveyed by the firm indicating plans to purchase a tablet in the next year. “We have never seen such a high purchasing intent for a new category in the past.”

Rasgon sees Apple dominating the market "for the foreseeable future." In the first year of availability, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads, more than three times the number of iPhones sold in its first year, and double the initial sales of netbooks.

"Apple has created a company the size of EMC in one year,” if iPad revenues were spun off into a separate company, the report noted.

According to Rasgon and her colleagues, tablets will drive only "modest" cannibalization of PCs, with room for multiple "Internet access devices" among consumers. The report named Dell and HP as more credible tablet producers among consumers than HTC and other smartphone makers. But, Intel is expected to miss out on the tablet boom, as the chipmaker is likely to "miss the boat" with its tablet chips.

As rivals struggle to compete with the iPad, the analysts foresee prices dropping, though panel prices are expected to constrain the race to the bottom. Rasgon sees a sub-$200 tablet as a possibility by 2015.

Apple announced last week that total iPad sales have reached the 25 million milestone in just 14 months, putting the company on track to sell an estimated 8 million this quarter.

Though the initial success of the iPad prompted some initial concerns among analysts that the device would cannibalize the PC market, recent reports have suggested that the iPad has instead brought new revenue to the consumer technology industry. Apple has admitted that the iPad may have caused some cannibalization of its Mac business, while also acknowledging a "halo effect" from the touchscreen tablet.

"If this is cannibalization, it feels pretty good," Apple COO TIm Cook said earlier this year after a record quarter.