Nonexistent Apple iPad Mini biggest threat to iPad's tablet dominance

The biggest threat to the iPad's leadership could come from Apple itself, in the form of the much rumored iPad Mini.

Amazon, with its Kindle Fire tablet, made a brief run at Apple and its iPad late last year, but the latest ChangeWave survey results show that Apple survived that challenge and continues to dominate the tablet market.

ChangeWave found in its May survey that 8% of 2,893 consumers planning to buy tablets over the next 90 days were going with the Amazon Kindle Fire, down from 22% back in November when the Kindle Fire was new. By comparison, 73% of those surveyed in May said they plan to go with an iPad, which was refreshed in March.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab finished third, with 6% of planned tablet purchases going its way, according to the survey from ChangeWave, a 451 Research service.

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The biggest threat to the iPad's leadership could come from Apple itself, in the form of the much rumored iPad Mini, which could sport a 7-inch screen rather than the regular iPad's 9.7-inch screen. ChangeWave asked consumers how likely they would be to buy an iPad Mini for themselves or someone else, and 3% said very likely, while 14% said likely.

"At the moment, the greatest competitive threat to the new iPad could well be the iPad Mini -- which doesn't exit yet, but even if it ever does, it too will be made by Apple," says Paul Carton, VP of research at ChangeWave.

The other major obstacle to Apple competitors is that Apple is getting huge satisfaction numbers. ChangeWave found that 81% of new iPad owners are satisfied, along with 71% of iPad 2 buyers. Other tablet makers are far down the satisfaction rating scale, with 46% of Samsung Galaxy Tab users saying they're very satisfied and 41% of Amazon Kindle Fire users saying the same.

ChangeWave is not alone in documenting the iPad's continued strength and the Kindle Fire's slowing momentum. ABI Research reported earlier this week that Apple had about a 65% share of the worldwide market in Q1, when 11.8 million of the 18.2 million tablets shipped were iPads. Samsung finished second, with "the Amazon's Kindle Fire shipments fizzled entering 2012," according to ABI. The research firm went on to say that Apple and Samsung are the two vendors also showing staying power in smartphones.

Bob Brown tracks network research in his Alpha Doggs blog and Facebook page, as well on Twitter and Google +.

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