Apple Inc.'s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS operating system will reassert its dominance of the worldwide tablet space in 2012 after a temporary dip in market share in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a report from research firm IHS (NYSE: IHS).
IHS projects sales of tablets to soar by 85 percent to 126.6 million units this year, and another 63 percent growth next year, to hit 360.4 million in 2016.
The Apple operating system's share of worldwide tablet sales will grow to 61 percent this year after dipping to 55.1 percent in the fourth quarter of last year due to surge in sales of Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire tablet that is based on Google's (GOOG) Android operating system, the research firm noted.
IHS expects Android's share to drop to 38.4 percent for the full year after climbing to 41.1 percent in the final three months of 2011.
Rhoda Alexander, director for monitors and tablets research at IHS, said the key to Apple's media-tablet success has been its offering of a complete hardware-plus-content ecosystem. "The combination of a good-looking device, well-designed applications, video, books and music has provided consumers with an easy-to-use product and an appealing use case."
"Such an ecosystem took Apple years to put together, starting with the iPod plus iTunes Music Store more than nine years ago, and it's proving to be a challenge for the company's competitors to replicate it," Alexander added.
Alexander said supply-side sources indicate that the company will deploy a smaller, 7.8-inch display version of the iPad later this year, although Apple has yet to confirm this.
"A smaller screen does not necessarily mean a substantially lower price; rather, IHS expects Apple will place continuing emphasis on the quality of the overall tablet experience and the benefits of selecting the company's products," Alexander said.