Analysts at Gartner don’t appear to be too optimistic about the prospects for Research In Motion’s PlayBook, due for release on April 19, in terms of capturing tablet market share away from Apple.
While QNX, the OS used in the BlackBerry PlayBook, is a strong platform that delivers on performance, graphics and multitasking features, Gartner analysts say success in the media tablet market will be driven by richness of ecosystem, and it will take time and significant effort for RIM to attract sufficient developers and deliver a compelling ecosystem as a viable alternative to Apple or Android.
Organizations will be mainly interested in RIM’s tablets because they either already have RIM’s infrastructure deployed or have stringent security requirements, Gartner says.
Gartner predicts Apple’s iOS will account for 69 percent of media tablets operating systems in 2011 and represent 47 percent of the media tablet market in 2015.
“Seeing the response from both consumers and enterprises to the iPad, many vendors are trying to compete by first delivering on hardware and then trying to leverage the platform ecosystem,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, in a press release. “Many, however, are making the same mistake that was made in the first response wave to the iPhone, as they are prioritizing hardware features over applications, services and overall user experience. Tablets will be much more dependent on the latter than smartphones have been, and the sooner vendors realize that the better chance they have to compete head-to-head with Apple.”
Gartner forecasts Google’s Android OS will increase its worldwide share of the media tablet market from 20 percent in 2011 to 39 percent in 2015. Analysts say Google’s decision not to open up the Honeycomb, its first OS version dedicated to tablets, to third parties will prevent fragmentation, but it will also slow the price decline and ultimately cap market share.
“Volume will be driven by support from many players, the ecosystem of applications for tablets getting more competitive and some platform flexibility allowing lower price points,” states Roberta Cozza, principal analyst at Gartner. “The new licensing model Google has introduced with Honeycomb enables Google to drive more control, allowing only optimal tablet implementations that don’t compromise quality of experience. This might mean that prices will drop at a slower pace than what we have seen in the smartphone market.”
Platforms like MeeGo and WebOS, which currently have a weak presence in the smartphone market, will have a limited appeal unless they can grow that business, the analysts say.