With the imminent release of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet, Telsyte expects the device will nab up to 2 percent of the market in Australia by the end of the year — despite having only been on the market for just over two months at that point.
The Australian launch of Surface RT has yet to be announced but the US launch is slated for October 26. Telsyte expects the vendor will make the product available in Australia around the same time. Microsoft Surface's Australia website said the device will be released in 2012.
The analyst firm reported today that the Australian tablet market nearly doubled year-on-year in the first half of 2012. Right now, around 15 percent of Australians have a tablet, and this number is predicted to double next year. By 2016, more than half the population will be using tablets, according to Telsyte.
Apple remains the dominant player in the tablet market with its iPad series, but Google's Nexus 7 is making headway. Telsyte forecasts that it will take the lion share of the sub $300 market in the second half of this year, though it really doesn't have much competition in the 7-inch form factor category, for now. Apple is rumoured to be releasing a 7-inch iPad Mini, so Google and its partner Asus may be facing some stiff competition very soon.
So where does that leave Microsoft?
One advantage of the Microsoft Surface tablet is the ability for native support of Microsoft Office and the ability to run existing third-party Windows applications, Telsyte industry analyst Alvin Lee told ZDNet Australia.
"Supporting activities in both desktop and touch-mode will be seen as an advantage for consumers looking to replace laptops and netbooks," he said.
Microsoft Windows 8 tablets will be targeting a slightly different audience than current media tablets, according to Lee.
"The acceptance of the touch-optimised interface, availability of applications, and price will be what's driving the growth of Microsoft Surface and other Windows 8 tablets," he said.
Microsoft's decision to enter the tablet hardware market has not been met with an unanimously warm welcome.
Last month, Acer CEO JT Wang said Microsoft will be in competition with its own hardware partners with the Surface product line.
Dell CEO Michael Dell is foreshadowing that Surface will grab a "relatively small" amount of market share — at around 1 to 2 percent — well into next year.
Meanwhile, Lenovo EMEA division head Gianfrano Lanci said that theSurface will be a good addition to a competitive market.
"Microsoft chose to manufacture own-branded tablets to set the standard," Lee said. "The effects are yet to be seen until various Windows 8 tablets are available in the Australian market.
Updated September 5, at 9.30am: Clarified Australian tablet release date details.