iPad to dominate tablet market for the next three years. Sorry, Android.

The iPad will continue to lead the tablet race well into 2014, according to one new report. Not that things are all bad for Android.

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    The iPad will continue to dominate the market through 2014, according to one new report. Here, a guest at a London Fashion Week event uses an iPad to film a model on the catwalk.
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It's no secret that Apple has the tablet market in a throttle hold.

For proof, check in with the Motorola Xoom, the HP TouchPad, and the BlackBerry PlayBook, all cutting-edge devices which have bumped up, in one way or another, against the enduring supremacy of the iPad. Or check in with the folks at Gartner, who this week published a report indicating that Apple will have a "free run" over its competitors for the next three years.

"We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner said in a statement. "This is because Apple delivers a superior and unified user experience across its hardware, software and services. Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple’s position will be minimal."

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Not that things are completely terrible for iPad competitors. According to Gartner, Android tablets are on pace to ship 11 million units in 2011, which would account for 17.3 percent of all tablet sales. Not too shabby! And certainly up from Android’s 2010 market share of 14.3 percent. But contrast that with the whopping 73.4 percent of the market currently held by Apple, and, well, you get the point.

"So far, Android’s appeal in the tablet market has been constrained by high prices, weak user interface and limited tablet applications," Gartner's Milanesi said. "Google will address the fragmentation of Android across smartphone and tablet form factors within the next Android release, known as ‘Ice Cream Sandwich,’ which we expect to see in the fourth quarter of 2011."

Until then, the advantage is all Apple's.

On a related note, here's a question for all you tech watchers out there: Is the Apple iPad more like the Apple iPhone or the Apple iPod? The iPod, after all, defined an entire category of device, and dominated that category, even in the face of usurpers such as the Microsoft Zune. The iPhone, meanwhile, was eventually and effectively countered by Google's Android, which is currently top dog in the smartphone race.

Discuss.

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