Last week, Gartner released their official predictions for how the smartphone market will fare by the year 2015. While that’s all well and good, the general consensus following the release of that report was this: probably not. Why? Because that’s a long time from now, and there’s so much happening in the mobile market right now, and will be for the next few years, that it’s almost impossible to predict how the environment will look that far down the road. Sure, it’s possible that the market looks close to how they predict, but there’s a few “underdogs” in there that will hopefully rise a lot faster than Gartner predicts. Not wanting to slow down the prediction train, Gartner has now released their estimates for how the tablet market will look in 2015. The main difference this time around? Well, they’re probably right.
When I looked at the Gartner report about smartphones in 2015, I was already thinking that whatever conclusion they came to would be inaccurate -- or just pure speculation, just from the title. That’s because the mobile market is one that’s always shifting, growing and falling, and the release of a new mobile OS can shift the whole picture without warning. I know these predictions are being done by incredibly smart individuals looking over numbers and spreadsheets and more numbers; and they are basing their decisions on a tide-and-true estimator based on how the market has been growing or falling over a set number of months (if not years). But, anything is possible. If Gartner is seeing these numbers, you can bet the higher-ups at these named manufacturers are seeing these numbers too, and if the guys over at HP honestly believe that by 2015 webOS will only have 3 percent of the market by 2015 (after actually falling from 4 in 2011), then they probably wouldn’t even waste their time.
The problem with predictions like these, normally, is that there are just too many variables. There’s always a blindside waiting to happen, and with so many manufacturers out there waiting to make their software triumphant, it’s just inevitable. So why do I think this prediction is different? It’s not just because Apple’s at the top, with Android keeping a close second throughout the years. It’s because Research In Motion’s QNX Software is taking a firm third place, while HP’s webOS and MeeGo are rounding up the bottom.
I think the big question is whether or not Android will be able to surpass Apple. And I mean, really surpass them. No doubt, as we look at the sheet, we can see that Android definitively gobbles up market share with each passing year, but Apple remains at the top. And that’s, theoretically, with just one device claiming that King of the Hill spot. Sure, Apple may have released an iPad 5 by that time, with an iPad Mini somewhere in there, too; but if we’re looking at it right now, that means the iPad 5 is the sole proprietor of that King’s throne. While Android will have multiple high-end devices being tossed around the market, none of which will be able to take the seat from Apple.
That’s basically what we’re seeing now in the tablet market. Look at how many tablets with Android running the show are out there. And, even if we look at the Motorola XOOM as an indicator as to what’s to come for Android tablet sales, all thanks to the tablet-centric mobile OS Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), the signs aren’t all that glamorous. This is, for all intents and purposes, Apple’s game to lose at this point, but if Gartner is right it doesn’t look like they’ll be missing any crucial shots any time soon.
But, here’s a curveball for you: what if Microsoft releases Windows Phone 7 as a tablet OS in some fashion or another? Where do you think they’d land in 2015? How do you take Gartner’s predictions? Let me know in the comments below.