Global annual tablet device shipments to top 80 million by 2015

The number of annual shipments for tablet devices will reach 81 million by 2015 as an increasing number of consumer electronics players and handset manufacturers enter the market, finds Juniper Research’s latest report.

The Android operating system is allowing both new players and existing device manufacturers to join the market and product launches have taken place already from companies such as Dell with the Streak, and Samsung with the Galaxy Tab.

“Competition to Apple is likely to arrive in earnest in 2011, though by then Apple is likely to be ready to launch a new version of the iPad, reinforcing its market position,” said Anthony Cox, senior analyst at Juniper Research.

Further findings from the tablets report include: Apple, as first to market with its compelling hardware and content combination, will maintain market lead for the medium term; Although Android will be widely adopted by new entrants, products using QNX (for BlackBerry), Windows Phone 7 and MeeGo will come to market in 2011; The netbook market will be pressured by tablets though it will remain resilient in the business market; Incumbent handset manufacturers such as Nokia are challenged through the increasing sophistication of Apple iOS and Android.

According to the report, handset manufacturers with the longest history in the market and a close association to a specific operating system face the most considerable challenges. The quality of both Apple’s iOS and the Android operating system has affected RIM, Microsoft and Nokia the most.

These companies have all developed new operating systems, but they are taking a long time to bring products to the market. This has allowed Apple to consolidate its lead and Android to become the operating system of choice for new players.