Analyst: Competitors can't catch up to iPad

Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore says that Apple has created a nearly insurmountable lead that its competitors can't catch up with anytime soon.

Apple's iPad Apple

A slew of upcoming iPad competitors won't be able to match Apple's tablet anytime soon, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said in a recent note to investors.

"We believe Apple's lead in the tablet market will prove difficult to close by the onslaught of competing products coming over the next several quarters," Whitmore said Monday in a research note obtained by Fortune. "Ultimately, we expect the slew of upcoming competition to fall flat from a user-experience standpoint while struggling to materially undercut the iPad on price."

Apple's lead is quite substantial, Whitmore asserts. In terms of content, he said, Apple is leading competitors by 12 to 18 months. The iPad is two or more years ahead of rivals in terms of media integration, he said, thanks to iTunes, he said. And the iPad's success has helped it gain the upper-hand on component costs with touch-screen makers and NAND flash producers--that alone could prove troublesome for competitors trying to match the iPad's price.

Overcoming the iPad's lead means getting devices to store shelves sooner rather than later. Yet several of the iPad's top contenders could still be months away from release.

Part of that is due to Google Android OS 2.2's limitations for tablets. LG has reportedly delayed its tablet until Google offers a version of Android better suited for tablets. LG is likely waiting for Android 3.0, which is expected to be released next year. Research In Motion's PlayBook, also considered a viable contender to the iPad, is scheduled to launch next year.

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