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IDC Raises Tablet Sales Forecast, Again

Well, this is quite funny. For the third time this year, research company IDC has raised their tablet forecast for 2012 and onward. According to analysts, the tablet market is set to ship 122.3 million units in 2012, up from their previous prediction of 117.1 million units.

The latest update from their report entitled, Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, also states that 172.4 million units will be shipped in 2013, up from 165.9 million units. Additionally, it is estimated that 282.7 million units will be shipped in 2016, up from the previous forecast of 261.4 million units.

In June the research company increased their forecast from their original prediction of 106.1 million units in 2012 to 107.4 million units. Sure is a long way from the current estimated 122.3 million units. However, IDC did raise the forecast again in September to 117.1 million units in 2012 and it seems that at least this prediction isn’t too far off the new 2012 estimate.

You may be wondering, “Hey IDC, what’s with all the uncertainty?” Well, in June Research Director Tom Mainelli said it was due to an “increasing interest in the category from the commercial side.” In addition, Mainelli believed that the pending release of Microsoft 8 in conjunction with the March release of Apple’s iPad would boost tablet shipments.

In September, IDC released almost the same response as in June, stating: “Apple leads the market with its iPad, and we expect its dominance to continue in the second half of the year.” As well as, “Tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 and RT operating system, including the company’s own Surface tablets, will add some momentum.”

While they may have been right when it comes to the iPad, it doesn’t seem they were on the money when it comes to Windows-based tablets. In their most recent forecast, IDC predicts Window-based tablets will grow only to a mere 2.9 percent in 2012.

“Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower price points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond,” said Mainelli. “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 for a strong holiday season.”

As Mainelli mentioned, IDC expects Android’s worldwide tablet share to increase from 39.8 percent in 2011 to 42.7 percent in 2012. However, Apple will slip from 56.3 percent in 2011 to 53.8 percent in 2012.

“The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space,” said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “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. At the same time, top-tier companies like Samsung, Lenovo and ASUS are all launching Android tablets with comparable specs, but offered at much lower price points.”

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