Jen-Hsun Huang, the CEO of NVIDIA, estimates that Android-based tablet sales will surpass iPad sales within 3 years. He believes that the same momentum that has propelled Android in the handset space is currently building up in the tablet space.
“The Android phone took only two and a half years to achieve the momentum that we’re talking about,” he recently said at the Reuters Technology Summit in New York. And Jen-Hsun Huang is putting his resources where his mouth is: internally, Tegra (NVIDIA’s line of mobile chip/SoC) is increasingly getting more resources and attention from the company. NVIDIA has also acquired a baseband (modem) company called Icera, and it shows how committed NVIDIA is to the mobile business.
The handset market has proven that Android doesn’t actually need to beat Apple in terms of apps availability (and quality) to win the market share game. Android just needs to become good enough, and it mostly has on smartphones.
Tablet manufacturers still have trouble making their tablets cheap enough to efficiently compete in terms of pricing, but the consumer electronics world has a way to solve this: the expensive and hard-to-procure components like display and Flash memory will eventually become cheaper and available. Apple will move on to more expensive technologies and materials to keep its design advantage.
Apple will also cling to a higher-margin “premium” business, so that’s another opportunity for Android-powered tablets to compete with pricing. I doubt that Apple will be able to maintain its market share in the tablet space, like it did in the MP3 player arena.
So yes, it’s very probable that Android tablets will surpass the iPad, in terms of unit shipped, a few years down the road.