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Tablet shipments to hit 51.9 million in 2011

Largely due to the strength of the iPad, says JP Morgan

Strong sales of the iPad will push the overall tablet market to unexpected heights in 2011, according to investment bank JP Morgan.

JP Morgan's Mark Moskowitz said that Apple was likely to have a market share of 70.9 percent by the end of the year, and revised previous estimates of total table sales for the year from 46.1 million to 51.9 million units, Apple Insider reports.

He also revised estimates for 2012 slightly downward, from 76.3 million to 72.4 million, with Apple's market share declining to 62.8 percent by the end of next year. However, Apple will still be the dominant force in the tablet market, he said.

"Beyond the iPad, there has not been another high-volume tablet offering, yet. We are still awaiting the emergence of a clear number two player, though this may not happen until the launch of Windows 8 in 2H 2012," Moskowitz said.

However, another theory is that Amazon, which doesn't yet have a presence in the tablet market, could become the number two player very quickly. Forrester Research last month said that Amazon's tablet would be the "first true iPad challenger".

"Even though Amazon taking on Apple is a bit like David taking on Goliath (compare the market cap, profits, and cash position of the two companies), Amazon's willingness to sell hardware at a loss--combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets--makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market," Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps recently blogged.

Moskowitz did acknowledge the possibility that the Amazon tablet could be a major player, though cited concerns about the Android OS as a weak spot.

Meanwhile, investment firm Piper Jaffray earlier this week said that Apple would sell 68 million iPads in 2013.

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