By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
April 10, 2012

Expects market to grow to nearly 119 million units in 2012, with Apple taking 61%

When it comes to tablet computers, a market Apple (AAPL) dominated in 2010 and 2011, Gartner expects more of the same for the foreseeable future.

In a report issued Tuesday, the research firm projected tablet sales to end users to reach 118.9 million units in 2012, up 98% from 2011.

In the face of growing competition from the makers of Google (GOOG) Android tablets and the anticipated arrival of devices built on Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows 8, Gartner expects Apple’s share of the rapidly growing market to take only a minimal hit, easing from 66.6% in 2011 to 61.4% in 2012.

“Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. “As vendors struggled to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem, inventories were built and only 60 million units actually reached the hands of consumers across the world. The situation has not improved in early 2012, when the arrival of the new iPad has reset the benchmark for the product to beat.”

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