The iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market with Apple predicted to ship 70 million units in 2012, according to a market research firm.

IMS Research believes that these strong sales, largely of the third-generation iPad predicted to be launched tonight, will help Apple increase its market share to 70 percent by the end of the year from 62 percent at the end of 2011.

Sales of 70 million iPads in 2012 would represent 71 percent year-on-year, IHS said. The estimate is ahead of a prediction made this week by Digitimes, which forecast 65 million iPad sales in 2012, based on data from panel suppliers Samsung, LG and Chimei Innolux.

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Gerry Xu, PC Market Analyst at IMS Research says, "There is a large customer base loyal to Apple products that have been waiting for the latest tablet. Many owners of the iPad 1 are also expected to upgrade to the latest release. In addition to this consumer demand, growth is also forecast as a result of sales into enterprise and education."  

While the outlook is rosy for Apple, the future is not so bright for other tablet vendors, Xu said.

"Only modest growth was forecast for non-iPad tablets. Of these, the Kindle Fire from Amazon and several Win8 tablets, which will be released in late 2012, are forecast to be most successful. However, to date there is no significant threat to the iPad’s continued dominance in the tablet market.

"In fact, the share of Android tablets is forecast to fall from 35 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012. These tablets have struggled to compete with the user experience offered by the iPad and most future Android tablets are expected to target the low cost side of the market."