IDC Raises Tablet Forecast For 2012 And Onward: 122.3M By Year-End, 172.4M By 2013; Android Gains, eReaders Lose

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Analysts at IDC have today upped their tablet forecast for 2012 and onward, now predicting 122.3 million units for 2012, up from the firm’s previous forecast of 117.1 million units. In addition, IDC raised its forecast for shipments in 2013 to 172.4 million units, up from 165.9 million units before. According to IDC’s tablets research director, Tom Mainelli, the changes have to do with the increased traction from Android tablets, and expected strong holiday sales for Apple due to the iPad mini and its refreshed full-size iPad.

IDC also pegged 2016 tablet shipments to reach 282.7 million units worldwide, up from 261.4 million previously.

Mainelli specifically cited “solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others,” when discussing the increased traction for Android. “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,” he said.

In addition to increasing unit totals for 2013, IDC also looked into tablet operating system share, and again predicted growth for Android. The firm expects Android’s share to increase from 39.8% in 2011 to 42.7% by year-end 2012. Apple’s share will fall in response, with a slight dip from 56.3% in 2011 to 53.8% in 2012. Long-term, IDC believes that Windows 8 and Windows RT will pull its own marketshare out of the iOS and Android markets, going from 1% of the market in 2011 to 2.9% in 2012, and as high at 10.2% by 2016.

IDC Tablet Forecast for 2012

According to Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, the “breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space. Android tablet shipments will certainly act as the catalyst for growth in the low-cost segment in emerging markets given the platform’s low barrier to entry on manufacturing.” In other words, Android tablets will do well in markets where users can’t afford higher-priced iPads. And those markets will be poised to accept them, as they have already warmed up to Android smartphones.

Another reason for IDC’s raised tablet forecast comes at eReaders’ expense. Front-lit eReaders from Amazon and B&N have captured the interest of “a subset of consumers who prefer an eReader,” says IDC, but the analysts believe that the majority of buyers will go for multi-use tablets instead. IDC has dropped its eReader forecast down to 19.9 million units for 2012, which is lower than the 27.7 million units shipped in 2011.