Not content to gobble up smartphone market share, the Android operating system is poised to capture 15% of the tablet market in 2011, according to IMS Research.

IMS notes that at least 15 different suppliers are currently planning to sell Android-based tablets next year, including heavyweights such as Cisco, Dell, Motorola, Samsung, Acer, OpenPeak and Viewsonic.  The firm also projects Android's share of the tablet market to steadily grow to more than 28% by the end of 2015.

"The availability of Samsung's Galaxy Tab tablet via mobile carriers such as AT&T in the US will quickly boost Google Android's presence in the tablet market," says IMS analyst Anna Hunt.  "Even in the fixed-broadband ISP market, where the interface is typically customized to integrate the ISP's brand and services into the UI, hardware suppliers are offering Android models to allow ISPs to benefit from the quickly growing Android ecosystem."

Although Android has already been used as the operating system for tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Google is working on a new version of the software that will be optimized for large-screen devices in ways that current versions aren't.  Although Google hasn't yet set a release date for its tablet-centered Android, it will likely come out sometime next year after the company has released its Android 2.3 update, also known as "Gingerbread."  Google and Verizon are reportedly teaming up to create an Android-based tablet that will be specifically tailored for Verizon's network and will presumably have a new version of Android if and when it is finally released.

IMS says that Android, Apple OS and Windows will dominate the tablet market next year, as the three operating systems will combine to take more than 92% of total market share.  The firm expects operating systems such as Research in Motion's tablet OS and HP's webOS platform to steadily chip away at the big three tablet platforms, as it projects their total combined market share will shrink to just over 80% by 2015.

Over the past year Android has become a dominant player in the smartphone market.  Since January alone, Android has doubled its total market share in the mobile operating system market, and devices based on Android accounted for a whopping 44% of smartphones purchased in the third quarter of 2010, according to research firm ChangeWave.  Research firm Gartner has projected that by the end of the year sales of Android devices will exceed those based on the BlackBerry OS and the iPhone OS, meaning that Android will trail only Symbian as the world's most-used mobile operating system.