The tablet market is scorching hot, there's no arguing that. But does it have the legs to go the distance? International Data Corporation (IDC) believes it does, at least for the next several years. Tablets are selling so well that IDC just lifted its sales forecast for every year from now until 2016, at which time tablet shipments are forecast to more than double over where they're at today.
IDC noted a "strong competitive landscape" as the reason for increasing its 2012 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million, up from its previous forecast of 117.1 million. In 2013, IDC now believes the tablet market will scale to 172.4 million, and by 2016, shipments should reach 282.7 million, up from a previous forecast of 261.4 million units.
"Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC. "Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others. And Apple's November iPad mini launch, along with its surprise refresh of the full-sized iPad, positions the company well for a strong holiday season."
Apple's still the big winner with its iPad line, which currently holds a 53.8 percent share of the market, according to IDC's data. Android is in second place with a 42.7 percent share, Windows is in third with 2.9 percent of the market, and all others account for less than 1 percent (0.6 percent).
By 2016, IDC figures both iOS and Android will give up a bit of market share to make room for Windows. In fact, Windows is the only tablet platform IDC predicts will grow its market share, rising to 10.3 percent in 2016. iOS and Android will drop to 49.7 percent and 39.7 percent, respectively, while all other tablets will go down to 0.3 percent.
It will be interesting to see if IDC's projections prove accurate. Certainly there's an argument to be made that the Windows tablet party is just getting started, but at the same time, we're finally starting to see some affordable 10-inch Android tablets from name-brand vendors like Toshiba. If that trend continues, we wouldn't be surprised to see Android dominate the landscape in the fashion as smartphones.