Some 190.9m tablet devices are predicted to be sold around the world in 2013, IDC has predicted. Google’s Android operating system is expected to overtake Apple’s iPad and will capture 48.9pc of the global tablet market share this year, while the iPad is predicted to slip from 51pc to 46pc market share.
According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, the number of tablet devices that will ship are up from an original forecast of 172.4m devices.
By 2017, IDC forecasts shipments in the region of 350m worldwide.
“One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size,” explained Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst at IDC.
“And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond. Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realise that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits,” Ubrani said.
The rise of the Android tablet
Android-based tablets expanded their share of the market notably in 2012, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013.
Android’s share of the market is forecast to reach a peak of 48.8pc in 2013 compared to 41.5pc in IDC’s previous forecast.
Android’s gains come at the expense of Apple’s iOS, which is expected to slip from 51pc of the market in 2012 to 46pc in 2013.
Longer term, both iOS and Android will eventually relinquish some market share to Windows-based tablets, with Windows 8 predicted to grow from 1pc of the market in 2012 to 7.4pc in 2017. IDC expects Windows RT growth to remain below 3pc during the forecast period.
“Microsoft’s decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far,” said Tom Mainelli, research director at IDC.
“Consumers aren’t buying Windows RT’s value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road.”
While IDC continues to revise its tablet forecast upward, the firm had done the opposite with the e-reader forecast.
The growth of low-cost tablets is clearly damaging the prospects of the single-use e-reader, and IDC reduced its forecast for the category by an average of 14pc between 2013 and 2016.
IDC believes e-reader shipments peaked in 2011 at 26.4m units. After declining to 18.2m units in 2012, the category is expected to grow only modestly in 2013 and 2014, before it begins a gradual and permanent decline beginning in 2015.
Tablet computing image via Shutterstock