Feature Article

March 14, 2013

Smaller, Low-Cost Tablets to Lead Tablet Sales, Increase Android Tablet Share

When the iPad first launched in 2010, it sold by the millions and created the tablet market practically overnight. Since then, the market has slowly expanded to make room for competing Android and Windows tablets, largely led by the need for smaller, lower-priced devices.

In fact, International Data Corporation's recently released 2013 forecast for the worldwide tablet market was increased from its previous forecast of 172.4 million unites to 190.9 million simply because of the recent surge in lower-cost tablet devices. Overall, increases in tablet shipments for the forecast period, 2013 to 2016, have been made with an average increase of 11 percent.

Furthermore, the latest forecast update of IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker puts tablet shipments around 350 million by the end of 2017.

"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond," said Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC's Tablet Tracker, in a statement. "Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits."

Obviously, the popularity of smaller tablets has allowed Android to increase its share of the market, a trend expected to continue in 2013. In fact, Google's mobile OS is expected to reach a peak of 48.8 percent this year, up from 41.5 percent in the previous IDC forecast. As a result, Apple's iOS will slip from 51 percent of the market in 2012 to 46 percent in 2013.

In this case, it's likely the excellent value offered by the Nexus 7 will be a major factor in Android's continued tablet success.

Meanwhile, Windows-based tablets won't fare as well, with Windows 8 expected to grow from one percent market share in 2012 to 7.4 percent in 2017, while Windows RT growth will remain below three percent throughout the forecast period. This corroborates what UBS said earlier this year about there being greater interest in Windows 8 than Windows RT.

Finally, this surge in the tablet market is expected to damage the eReader market, with IDC lowering its forecast for the category by an average of 14 percent over the next three years.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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