If you want to offer a tablet not powered by iOS or Android, you might want to cool your heels until the next decade. Apple’s iPad and various Android-powered tablets will control 90 percent of the market through at least 2017, researchers announced Monday.
What’s more, forgot about Samsung or RIM challenging the two tablet leaders. Look instead to Windows, but then as only a distant third choice, according to research firm In-Stat. The key is building a base of software developers and publishers that ship alongside your tablet, a huge advantage for Apple and Google, researchers say.
“Not supporting one of the leading OS platforms is likely to lead to the failure of several companies in the tablet market due to lack of application support,” In-Stat announced. Key evidence: HP’s decision to kill the webOS-based TouchPad, which never caught on despite repeated price cuts.
Still, there is room to grow. By 2017, 250 million tablets will ship, more than 10 times the 17 million devices in 2010. More than half of those will have 9- to 11-inch screens, seeming to put the kabosh on talk of 7-inch alternatives, such as RIM’s PlayBook or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.
As in smartphones, wireless carriers “could have a tremendous impact on future tablet demand,” the researchers say. However, there’s likely not to be any carriers putting bets on non-Apple or non-Android devices. That’s even more probable given the dropping of webOS, the reluctance to support the embattled RIM PlayBook and the consolidation of Motorola under Google.