White iPad 2If analysts from Gartner are correct, the market dominating lead Apple has with the iPad just may be insurmountable for competitors.  According to a report released by the leading analyst group today, they see the iOS operating system leading the tablet market through at least 2015, even though its total market share will continue to drop with each year.

“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. “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.”

Looking at the percentages that Gartner provided, things are definitely not looking positive for iOS competitors.

The number that has left me scratching my head the most is what they predict for webOS.  While the BlackBerry QNX platform makes some sense as consumers will stay loyal to the brand, the rise and fall of the revived webOS under the HP banner seems a bit more of a random prediction.  There is no sales data whatsoever to back up those numbers so they really do feel like shots in the dark when it comes to the yet to be released TouchPad.

Android HoneycombSure to not thrill Android supporters is the long, slow climb Gartner is predicting for the OS in the tablet market.  “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,” said 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.”

The thing to keep in mind when you see any predictions about the tablet market is that this is a space that barely existed prior to the launch of the original iPad in 2010.  There is only slightly over a year of historical data to base these predictions on, and projecting out another four years doesn’t take into account new players that may enter the field.  Gartner and other analysts could be spot on, or they could be woefully off base, only time will tell.

What do you think?  Can iOS continue to dominate the market for years to come?