There will be the best part of 20 million tablet computers sold this year and Apple’s iPad will account for 90 per cent of so of them (which is fair enough as it invented the category, one which many others said wouldn’t take off).
But now there’s some serious competition on the way from Samsung, the world’s biggest electronics company, which is launching its Galaxy tablet in a 7″ model (which Apple’s Steve Jobs says is too small to be any use for proper computing) and is promising a range of them from 7” to 10”.
Samsung’s Galaxy is half the weight of an iPad too, at 380g.
The point about the 7″ model is than you can stuff it in your pocket, which you can’t do with an IPad. So in theory it can double as a phone. Apple would say its iPhone gives you as many high-quality options as you need from a small device.
Samsung is also likely to undercut the iPad significantly on price when it launches in the US and Europe so it should be quite a fight.
The early part of next year will see many more tablets, with LG leading the way. But Apple and Samsung already look like the two main players.
And it’s a fight well worth winning. Estimates of tablet sales worldwide in 2011 are about 60 million. It could well be a lot more than that.