Consumers' penchant for tablet devices will boost worldwide demand for portable Internet devices running on "lite" operating systems such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems (OSes), according to a new Ovum study.
Released Monday, the report revealed that the global shipment of portable Internet devices, which include the Apple iPad, Android-based tablets such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's PlayBook running on its BlackBerry Tablet OS, will reach 150 million in 2015. Other devices that are also tracked in the research include clamshell notebooks and other convertible form factors.
"This huge growth in shipments will be dominated by tablet-style technologies such as the iPad and will mainly be driven by consumers buying devices to complement their smartphones," Tony Cripps, principal analyst at Ovum, noted in the report. He added that these portable Internet devices will act either as a "third device" in markets where there is a high penetration of PCs, or as the primary computing device in low PC penetration markets.
Cripps added that Asia-Pacific will see a "staggering growth" in device shipments in 2015, accounting for 35 percent of global shipments, up from 20 percent in 2010. By 2015, the region will ship 52 million portable Internet devices, up from just 2.8 million last year.
Regardless of its increasing popularity, though, portable Internet devices will not replace smartphones, Cripps noted. Because smartphones have "greater ease of use" for the majority of consumers, he explained that shipments of tablets and other lite OS-based devices will not "dramatically erode" the growing demand for smartphones.
"This is especially pertinent given both device categories' obvious similarities in hardware and software technologies," he said.
Google to topple Apple's dominance
In terms of platform market share, within the portable Internet device category, Ovum expects Google-based OSes Android and Chrome will dominate the segment and push Apple's iOS down to second place.
Cripps pointed out that while the iOS platform took 90 percent of the market in 2010, this will change in five years' time. Apple's market share is projected to drop to 35 percent while Google's share will rise to 36 percent. He added that other software platforms such as the BlackBerry Tablet OS and Hewlett-Packard's WebOS, will find some success but, together, will account for the remaining 29 percent of the market.
Explaining his prediction, the analyst said: "This is because the dominant software platforms, Apple and Google, will attract the most attention from the cream of the developers.
"As a result, they will have the best, most talked about applications and content, and this is what people will consider when making a purchase," Cripps said.
In an earlier report, however, analysts told ZDNet Asia that device functionality and form factor--rather than apps--will sway consumers' decision to purchase portable Internet devices.