LONDON: Apple's iPad is likely to retain its leading position in the European tablet market for the near future at least, Forrester, the research firm, has argued.

Despite the roll out of devices such as the Acer Iconia Tab and Samsung Galaxy Tab, Forrester reported that Apple's iPad still holds a 70% regional market share, with competing offerings often struggling to achieve meaningful sell-through.

Apple has 52 stores in Europe, 32 of which are in the UK, meaning it might be more "vulnerable" in other countries, especially as the iPad is not even available online in nations like Poland.

Key factors supporting its dominance include the number of manufacturers and operating systems, fuelling intense rivalry in a fragmented marketplace that is, nonetheless, "notably devoid of shoppers".

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester, said: "iPad competitors' prices are too high, and no competitor has matched Apple on content or channel strategy."

While low-cost slates from Huawei and ZTE could exert a degree of price pressure, and major brands like Sony may see some success at the premium end, more innovative solutions are needed.

"Without a radical Amazon-like disruptor, Europeans are likely to buy an iPad-or wait for something truly different to come along," said Rotman Epps.

By way of comparison, Forrester also estimated the iPad is expected to take 80% of all US sales this year, where Apple's retail network comprises 238 stores.

In producing its European study, the insights provider polled almost 14,000 adults in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

It suggested that tablet penetration has reached 7% in Spain, 6% for Italy, 5% in Germany, 3% in the UK and just 2% in France.

The number of additional respondents interested in acquiring one of these gadgets hit 14% in Germany, 12% in the UK and Italy, and 10% for both Spain and France.

Overall, Forrester predicted 14.5m slates will be sold across Europe, the Middle East and Africa in 2011, 30% of the projected global total of 48.2m.

Data sourced from Forrester, Reuters, Paid Content; additional content by Warc staff