It's hard to believe, but a year ago the Apple iPad was still vaporware -- a pipe dream subject of tremendous speculation and rumor. When 2010 began, there wasn't even a tablet market to speak of, but now the iPad is the dominant player in it, and competitors are lining up in droves to try to claim a piece of the tablet pie.
But, while Dell launched an embarrassing attempt at a tablet with the Streak, and Samsung appears to have a decent iPad contender in the soon-to-be-launched Galaxy Tab, the majority of the iPad rivals are themselves vaporware subject to rumor and speculation at this point. Meanwhile, the iPad is everywhere.
Apple sold more than 3 million iPads in the first 80 days it was available. Gartner recently predicted that nearly 20 million tablets will be sold in 2010. With only 10 weeks left in the year, and the anemic Dell Streak as the only tablet competitor actually available at this time, it seems fair to assume that the vast majority of those 20 million tablets will be iPads.
As if the significant head start in dominating the tablet market isn't enough, Apple's strategy of retail saturation trumps its rivals. While the Dell Streak is offered through Dell with an AT&T Wireless subsidy, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab is expected to be available at a carrier-subsidized discount from all four major wireless providers in the United States, the Apple iPad is available almost everywhere.