The International Data Corporation (IDC) said on Tuesday that it has adjusted its worldwide tablet market forecast for 2013, increasing the number of units sold from 172.4 million to 190.9 million. By 2017, shipments to be upwards of 350 million units.
The big news stemming from the updated forecast is that Android's share of the 2013 tablet market will be 48.8-percent, slightly higher than Apple's 46-percent. Adding insult to injury, Android's tablet market share will actually decrease to 46-percent by 2017 whereas Apple's iOS will only control 43.5-percent.
Windows will see a market share increase over the next four years, controlling only 2.8-percent of the tablet market in 2013 and 7.4-percent in 2017. The ARM-based version, Windows RT, will only control 1.9-percent in 2013 and 2.7-percent in 2017. Windows shipments include Windows 8 and Windows 7 tablets, the firm stated.
"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. "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."
As an owner of both Nexus tablets, that comment hits the nail right on the head. The bulky 10-inch model may sport a larger screen and higher resolution, but the 7-inch Tegra 3-based model from Asus feels more stable and is easier to hold when reading The Walking Dead comics or surfing the Internet. The 10-inch Samsung model is better suited for stationary tasks like watching Netflix while using a tablet cover with a built-in kickstand.
Meanwhile, Apple is struggling to remain relevant by offering an 8.9-inch version of its iPad, the iPad Mini. What Apple has seemingly failed to realize is that consumers are gravitating to the $199 price range. Still, even the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch tablet with 32 GB of storage (and without offers) retails for $384 USD whereas the 32 GB iPad Mini costs $429 USD.
As for Microsoft, both Windows 8 and Windows RT are reportedly experiencing poor sales. Even Microsoft's attempt to win consumers over with branded solutions has failed to gain any traction. "Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and 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," added Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets.
The report also states that the emergence of the 7-inch tablet form factor has damaged the prospects of the single-use eReader. Shipments peaked in 2011 at 26.4 million units, and then began its market descent with 18.2 million units in 2012. IDC reports that the eReader sector will see a modest growth in 2013 and 2014 before beginning a gradual and permanent decline in 2015.
So long, and thanks for all the fish, dear faithful eReader.