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Worldwide tablet sales are on pace to triple by 2015 to 326.3 million units, according to Gartner. The IT researcher sees Apple’s iPad sales accounting for 73.4 percent of worldwide tablet sales in 2011, though that’s down from 83 percent in 2010

.Gartner said it expects that, beyond Apple iOS and Android, no other platforms are likely to have more than 5 percent share of the tablet market in 2011 – a possibly bitter blow for RIM’s PlayBook, which uses the company’s proprietary QNX system.

“We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

“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.

“Apple had the foresight to create this market and, in doing that, planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen.

“This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options.”

However – despite suggestions in other quarters that Android tablet makers are struggling to make an impact – Gartner claims 11 million Android units will be sold in 2011, accounting for 17.3 percent of tablet sales.

Still, Gartner’s forecast for the Android OS has been lowered by 28 percent from its more enthusiastic projections in the past quarter – presumably reflecting Apple’s success in using court action to, temporarily at least, wipe Samsung off much of the global market.

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