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iPad grabs 80 percent share, but here comes Amazon

Apple's popular tablet won over 80 percent of the North American market during the second quarter of 2011, says a new report from Strategy Analytics, but could face a challenge from Amazon's new tablet.

James Martin/CNET

Apple's iPad grabbed 80 percent of the tablet market in North America during the second quarter of the year, according to data out yesterday from Strategy Analytics. But that dominance could face some challenges ahead.

For the quarter, Apple shipped 6 million out of the 7.5 million total tablets shipped across America by the industry, putting it firmly ahead of Motorola, Samsung, RIM, Asus, HTC, and other competitors. Alex Spektor, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, pointed to a "combination of cool branding, user-friendly hardware, entertaining services, and savvy retail distribution" as the keys to Apple's market leadership.

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Looking across the world, a July report from Strategy Analytics pegged the iPad's global market share for the second quarter at 61 percent with 9.3 million shipments. Though still dominant, that number showed a drop from the 94 percent share that the iPad picked up in 2010's second quarter as rival tablets have flooded the market.

Gazing ahead, the research firm believes that Apple's grip on the American tablet market will be "hard, but not impossible, to break." And one player that may be able to challenge Apple's firm leadership is Amazon, which is expected to unveil its new Android tablet today.

With the right pricing, screen size, and hardware design, an Amazon tablet could stand a chance against the iPad where other tablets have failed.

"Like Apple, Amazon has a strong brand, compelling content, sophisticated billing systems, and widespread distribution," Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "In effect, Amazon's new tablet product represents a good opportunity to place an Amazon shopping cart in the hands of American consumers, offering optimized access to purchasing digital content or physical goods from the Amazon online store."

Other analysts agree. In a recent blog, Forrester's Sarah Rotman Epps said that if Amazon prices its tablet under $300 and can provide enough supply to meet demand, it could sell anywhere from 3 million to 5 million units globally in the fourth quarter. An Amazon tablet could be the first credible competitor to the iPad, believes Epps, turning the retail giant into "nasty competitor" and forcing Apple to "prepare for war."