Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, December 5, 2012
IDC predicts good news for Android, which powers the Kindle Fire.

The latest tablet predictions from the IDC research firm is out and here’s the lowdown: Android is gaining traction while Apple is not, Windows will steal future market share and tablets are more popular than ever.

IDC credits strong competition and more consumer buying options for a 2012 forecast of the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million, which is up for its previous forecast of 117.1 million.

“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,” Tom Mainelli, IDC research director for tablets, said in a press release. “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.”

Interesting to note that IDC predicts Windows-based tablets to steal some thunder from iOS and Android, growing from 2.9 percent in 2012 all the way to 10.2 percent in 2016. However, that likely won’t be due to the Surface, which could see fewer than 1 million sales in its debut quarter.

The same doesn’t hold true for Windows on the mobile side. IDC has significantly reduced its long-term forecast for Microsoft’s Windows Phone and expects it to post 11.4 percent market share in 2016, in third place behind Android (63.8 percent) and iOS (19.1 percent).

While Apple is ready for a nice holiday season with the iPad and iPad mini, IDC expects its tablet share to slip from 56.3 percent in 2011 to 53.8 percent in 2012. On the flip-side, Android’s tablet share is predicted to increase from 39.8 percent in 2011 to 42.7 percent this year. That’s good news for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets, which are powered by Android and are apparently reaching new sales records.

IDC predicts Microsoft to steal some tablet market share in the next four years, but the Surface sales aren’t so hot right now.

“The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space,” Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, said in the release. “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.”

The IDC increased its 2013 tablet forecast number to 172.4 million units, up from 165.9 million units. It also upped its forecasted 2016 worldwide shipments to 282.7 million units, up from a previous prediction of 261.4 million units.

The popularity of tablets is hurting sales of eReaders. The research firms expects 2012 eReader shipments to end up at 19.9 million units, down from the 27.7 million units that shipped in 2011.

Previously on GeekWire: Microsoft’s Surface Pro: Yep, this feels like a tough sell 

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  • guest

    I’m pretty sure robots will rule the world and Microsoft will no longer exist by 2016.

  • jeff

    Is this an early April fools joke?

    • random citizen

      or maybe it’s a bad joke and youre the fool.

  • derbyduck

    no joke . Microsoft are easily gaining ground. I am impartial but the competition is healthy

  • Christopher Budd

    If we use IDC’s phone predictions as a gauge ( then I guess next year they’ll cut their tablet numbers for 2017 to half of what they have now?

    In other words, they’re just making stuff up.

  • danux

    Even if we readily assume that Microsoft will indeed steal some thunder from Android and iOS tablets by growing to a 10.3% market share by 2016, that is still devastating news from the developers’ standpoint. If I develop an app for iOS and decide to invest the sizable extra work into porting the code for Android, then why on earth would I bother to address another possibly 10% if I already capture the important 90%? Economically it’s obvious that there will be a diminishing return of investment.

  • SilverSee

    Windows won’t have a credible chance as a consumer tablet platform until Microsoft and its partners put in a serious effort to launch it as such, including delivering a major retail push behind compelling products with a serious realignment of pricing.

    In my view, Microsoft’s marketing is falling short right now by promoting Windows 8 as something new and exciting for your PC. Consumers already know what PCs are. They even know about–and have mostly yawned at–touchscreen PCs.

    What they don’t know is that Windows might be great on tablets, or even that Windows-based tablets exist.

    Walk into Best Buy and try to find the table promoting ‘Windows Tablets’. No such table exists; instead you’ll find a lone Asus VivoTab RT with zero promotion or differentiating signage sitting on a display with a number of attractive Android devices selling for hundreds less.

    It’s a disastrous retail presence, and entirely reminiscent of the tepid way that Windows Phone was launched in 2010.

    Microsoft’s Surface promotion is actually the right thing to be doing–high quality advertising and a product with an engaging value proposition–but the Surface is completely non-existent at retail unless you happen to live next to a Microsoft store. (And then there’s the pricing.)

    I believe Microsoft is missing the biggest marketing opportunity that it had before it with Windows 8–to reposition Windows as a modern, mobile, tablet operating system.
    And I don’t buy that Microsoft’s partners are to blame by not getting their tablets in the retail channel at launch. Judging by how most are pricing and promoting their devices as business computers, Microsoft’s OEMs aren’t buying into the Windows consumer tablet story either.

    In my view, if Android ends up owning the non-iOS tablet market (as it has smartphones) and Windows takes just a ridiculous 10% of this market by 2016, Microsoft will have utterly failed–and it has only itself to blame.

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