Wow. We're all for a bit of crystal ball gazing, but a new pronouncement from an industry analyst has taken things to a completely new level by forecasting the state of the tablet market a full 10 years from now.
Needham's Charlie Wolf says the iPad holds such a strong hand that despite all the rival tablets we're seeing hit the market, Apple's slate will only lose around 20% of its market share by the year 2020.
There's no question that Android is starting to make some serious inroads into the iPad's market position, while we're expecting Microsoft to get in the game in a big way when it launches Windows 8 next year.
But according to Wolf, neither is likely to make a huge impression on the iPad, and instead will simply end up taking sales off each other, with the likes of webOS and QNX fighting for the scraps.
“Future tablets are more likely to steal share from one another than from the iPad,” Wolf argues. “The tablet market has been inundated with new models — the Xoom running on Android’s Honeycomb operating system, RIM’s PlayBook running on the company’s QNX operating system, HP’s TouchPad running on webOS, and many others.
“All of them have been greeted with a yawn and lacklustre sales.”
And the secret to the iPad's success? Apps. “In the case of tablets, the only thing that matters – that turns what's otherwise a slab into a versatile device – are the apps.
“And the applications available on the tablets introduced this year number at best in the hundreds. In comparison, more than 100,000 applications are available on the iPad.”
Sounds like fairly sound reasoning to us, but we can't help thinking predictions like Wolf's are more about attracting attention and creating headlines than anything else. After all, 10 years is a lifetime in the mobile tech world. A decade ago there was no iPad, no iPhone, no Android and no tablet market whatsoever.
So it's safe to say that the next decade is likely to contain one or two surprises that not even Mr Wolf will be able to see coming.