IDC has increased its forecast for sales of media consumption tablets for 2012-16, while predicting a decline in Android's market share. The new forecast also ignores tablets running Microsoft's Windows RT, though the research company says it plans to add these from the next quarter.
IDC's "expectations of strong demand for media tablets in the second half of 2012" have led the company to predict sales of 107.4 million units for this year, up from 106.1 million units. It has also slightly increased its forecast for 2013 -- now 142.8 million units -- and expects worldwide shipments to reach 222.1 million units in 2016, according to a statement.
However, it does not predict that tablets running Google Android will continue to gain ground, as they did in the smartphone segment. The market share of tablets running Apple's iOS (ie the iPad) fell from 76.2 percent in 2010 to 58.2 percent in 2011, while Android tablets increased their market share from 23.5 percent to 38.8 percent. Nonetheless, IDC predicts this trend will reverse. It expects iOS to have a market share of 62.5 percent this year (up by four points) and 60.8 percent in 2016.
By 2016, of course, the market could look different. IDC doesn't include Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets in its Media Tablet Tracker -- they're in the PC Tracker forecast -- but will switch them over from the next quarter. IDC says it will bring "all tablet slates, regardless of OS or processor type, into the Media Tablet Tracker".
Whether Windows-based tablets will sell remains to be seen. Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for Mobile Connected Devices, says:
"Our current thinking, based upon early pricing expectations for these products, is that Windows-based tablets will be largely additive to our existing media tablet market forecast. We don't expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market."
It appears that Windows RT tablets will cost significantly more than iOS and particularly Android tablets, especially if a report at VR-Zone is correct. In Microsoft charges Tablet OEMs a whopping $85 for Windows RT, the site says it surveyed manufacturers at Computex and was given quotes of "$80-95 dollars, with $85 being the most commonly quoted price".
While $85 is extremely cheap for a copy of Windows and Microsoft Office, it's very expensive for an ARM-based tablet. On this basis, Windows RT tablets look unlikely to dent iPad sales.