iPad competitors are hesitant
It has been predicted that Apple's iPad will rule the tablet market until at least 2016, retaining a share of over 45 per cent.
Global technology research company Gartner expects continued rapid growth of the entire market over the next four years, with 665 billion tablets likely to be in use before 2017 - and Apple products accounting for the lion's share.
Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said: "Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad."
She added: "It appears that this year competitors have waited to see what Apple would bring out -- because there were very few announcements of new media tablets at either the Consumer Electronics Show or Mobile World Congress."
Tablet sales keep going up
Microsoft has designed operating system Windows 8 for both desktop and tablet computers, in the same way that Google created the Android system for use on different types of smartphone, rather than one particular model. However, Gartner does not expect Microsoft's tablet contribution to achieve much popularity before 2016, predicting a maximum 12 per cent share.
This will contrast with the success of Android for smartphones, which has overtaken Apple's operating system. Android's tablet OS is less popular, however.
Apple is not as dominant as it once was, as the iPad's 83 per cent share of tablet sales in 2010 dropped to 73.4 per cent in 2011. However, even if its percentage continues to fall incrementally, it is still expected to sell more than any other model - and in huge volumes. Forecasts for 2012 predict 118.9 million general tablet sales; an increase of 60 million compared with 2011.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "The launch of the iPad 3 has got everyone excited about iPads all over again - and many people feel that it offers the most well-rounded and developed tablet experience. However, it will be interesting to see how Android and Windows progress."