SAN FRANCISCO—Apple Inc.'s iOS operating system is expected to reassert commanding leadership of the worldwide tablet space in 2012, following a temporary dip in market share in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Apple's lead in tablet OS market share is expected to be bolstered later this year with the introduction of a smaller sized iPad, according to IHS.
After dipping to 55.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, iOS' share of worldwide tablet sales—a segment including both media tablets and PC-type tablets—is set to recover to 61 percent for the full year of 2012, about the same portion it had in 2011, according to the IHS iSuppli Worldwide Tablet Market Tracker report.
IHS said Apple's dominant position in media tablet market share was temporarily diminished by a surge in sales for Amazon's Android-based Kindle Fire tablet in the fourth quarter of 2011. This caused Android's share of the tablet OS market to climb to 41.1 percent, up from 31.1 percent in the third quarter of 2011, IHS said.
But with Apple reasserting its leadership in 2012, IHS expects Android's share of the tablet market to decline to 38.4 percent for the year.
"The key to Apple’s media-tablet success has been its offering of a complete hardware-plus-content ecosystem," said Rhoda Alexander, director for monitors and tablets research at IHS, in a statement.
Alexander said Apple's robust ecosystem took years to develop, beginning with the iPod and the iTunes music store more than nine years ago. "It’s proving to be a challenge for the company’s competitors to replicate it," Alexander said.