A Digitimes Research survey of tablet shipment expectations for 2011 indicates that Apple will retain its lead by a large margin, but also signals the Cupertino, California firm’s share of the tablet market dropping as Android vendors have begun flooding the marketplace with non-Apple tablets in various forms, shapes, sizes and price points. The report says shipments are expected to surpass 65 million this year, up more than 200 percent from 2010. “While Apple remains the dominant player with its iPad line, other major vendors have looking to gain traction in this booming market”, the report notes.

Some 40 million tablets should be sold between June and December, with Apple growing 76 percent compared to H2 2010 and clearing 25.5 million units in H2 2011. This compares to 15.65 million non-Apple tablets predicted in the second half of 2011, a 65 percent increase versus the first half of 2011. This puts Apple’s H2 2011 share of the tablet market at 61 percent versus 39 percent for all other vendors combined. This isn’t bad at all, but it’s worth noting that Apple’s choke hold grip on the tablet market is easing as consumers face tablet choices other than iPad. Research firm Strategy Analytics pegged Apple’s share of the tablet market in the June quarter at 61.3 percent, while Android tablets have gone from 2.9 percent market share in June 2010 to 30.1 percent in June 2011. Also…

It is important to note that the survey estimates unit shipments into the channel, not actual sales to consumers. We’re mentioning it because non-Apple vendors rarely provide the distinction between sales and shipments and some, like Samsung, have stopped reporting unit sales altogether, citing competition from Apple. That being said, it wouldn’t be surprising if those vendors face substantial returns of unsold products from the channel, risking revisions of their third- and fourth-quarter earnings with a significant increase of their channel inventory.

Cross-posted on 9to5Mac.com

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