With talks and anticipation of Apple’s iPad 3 launch soon, the 2012 tablet computer market share battle is just about to commence. According to the research conducted by the WitsView and DRAMeXchange, the panel and NAND flash division of TrendForce (http://www.trendforce.com), the total sales of tablet computers in 2012 will likely amount to 94 million units, a 53.1% increase compared to 62 million units in 2011.

The study says Apple will continue maintaining its dominant position like it did over the past two years; iPad will take up 60% market share, a total of 59 million units. TrendForce says Apple’s high tablet market share can be attributed to its tablet competitors failing to catch up with iPad’s advancements.

Although various Android phones carve up a certain amount of market share, iPad’s domination remains unshaken. iPad 3 will further secure its leading status with its solid hardware-software integration and high resolution display, which will give iPad a leg up on other tablets in the market in terms of 2012 sales, according to the research group. The only concern is that iPad 3’s high resolution panel comes with a low yield rate; whether or not the panel production will be enough to supply the market demand remains to be seen.

Amazon fueled Kindle Fire’s sales in the fourth quarter of 2011 by lowering its price along with the help of its online bookstore.  At first, the strategy panned out well and generated quite a buzz. However, TrendForce says the Kindle Fire, designed as an electronic book reader, still doesn’t quite match consumers’ expectations for a tablet computer. In addition, according to the component makers, Amazon’s orders for panels in 1H12 decreased, which suggests at the time being, Kindle Fire is still unable to threaten iPad’s leading position.

At present, Android is unlikely to intimidate iPad, and for this reason, certain table manufacturers begin to slow down its development of Android tablets and shift the focus to the Windows 8 tablets set to release at the end of 2012. The makers are counting on Windows users’ high commitment to Microsoft Office to spur the sales of Windows 8 tablets. However, TrendForce says several issues persist, such as whether or not the ARM Windows 8 tablet is able to release as scheduled, the weight and battery life, and whether the software compatibility and interface design cater to the users’ preferences.

As for the talks about smaller iPads, these mini versions are still in the testing stage; whether or not these protoypes will enter mass production remains unknown. If production ensues, the release time will possibly be in the fourth quarter of 2012, right before Christmas, opines TrendForce.

The research group says that, with a smaller size and a resolution of 1024 X 768, as opposed to iPad 3’s 2048 X 1536, the small iPad won’t hurt the iPad 3’s sales in 2012 and will have a bigger impact in 2013. In other words, iPad will still hold the No. 1 spot in the tablet market with a market share of 60%, dominating over half of the total tablet market share well into 2013.