The supply of lower-priced, smaller devices will increase in 2013, leading to an increase in forecasts for the worldwide tablet market.
International Data Corporation (IDC) said a predicted surge of smaller, lower-priced tablets had led to an increase in its 2013 forecast, from 172.4 million units to 190.9 million.
An average increase in tablet shipments had occurred throughout the period, on average 11% between 2013 and 2016, with the latest updated forecast estimating tablet shipments to be more than 350 million by the end of 2017, IDC said.
IDC Tablet Tracker research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said the screen size of one in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below eight inches, and smaller tablet shipments were expected to continue growing in 2013 and beyond.
“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.”
Android catching up
Android tablets’ share of the market expanded in 2012, a trend IDC expected to continue this year, with a peak of 48.8% in 2013, compared with 41.5% in its previous forecast, the company said.
This increase would see Apple’s share slip to 46% of the market this year, compared with 51% in 2012.
Longer term, Windows tablets would gain some traction, growing from 1% of the market in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017 as Android and Apple gave way a little to Windows 8.
Windows RT growth was expected to remain below 3% for the period, IDC said.
IDC tablets research director Tom Mainelli said Microsoft’s decision to push two different tablet operating systems had yielded poor results in the market so far. Consumers weren’t buying into Windows RT, he said.
“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.”
The death of eReaders
The growth of low-cost tablets was damaging the prospects of the single-use eReader, IDC said.
It had reduced its forecast for the category by an average of 14% between 2013 and 2016 and said eReader shipments peaked in 2011 at 26.4 million units.
eReader shipments declined to 18.2 million in 2012, and the category was expected to grow modestly this and next year, before beginning a gradual and permanent decline at the beginning of 2015.