Cape Town - Apple is set to continue leading the tablet market, despite the exponential growth of devices running Google's Android operating system, research has shown.
According to research from Gartner, Apple's share of the tablet market fell to 55.8% at the end of 2012, from 83.7% in 2010.
Tablets running Android grew from 15.9% to 42.9% over the same period and Gartner forecasts that the growth of Android tablets will flatten over the next three years, growing slightly to 44.7% in 2017.
The industry tracker sees alternative tablets running Microsoft's Windows as taking up a significant portion of the market by 2017 (8.9%).
The tablet market is seen as a driver for manufacturers as PC sales decline.
According to industry tracker the IDC, PC sales fell by 14% in the first three months of 2013, the steepest decline since the firm began tracking industry trends.
The figures illustrate that consumers are migrating to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, especially as the price continues to decline.
The Gartner research illustrates that price is a factor in adoption of tablets.
The survey shows that 57.4% of basic or cheaper tablets were Android-powered at the end of 2012, with around 41.2% of users opting for Apple's budget offering, the iPad 2.
Further demonstrating the significance of price is the finding that 55% of all tablets in the Middle East and Africa region at the end of 2012 were powered by Android, which is generally cheaper than Apple's iPad at 42%.
This bucks the trend of the dominance of the iPad in developed market where the Apple devices commanded 66.3% at the end of 2012 and are projected to decline to 54.3% by 2017.
Windows tablets are projected to climb to 13.2%, while Android devices are expected to stay flat at around 30% to 2017.
Gartner, though, believes that the platforms will reach some equilibrium in the developing markets as Windows-based devices take Android share through to 2017.