IDC: iPad to gain at Android's expense; tablet shipments to surge

The two-horse race between Apple's iPad and Android-based devices continues to rage on. Other tablet makers are left out in the cold. But will Windows 8 disrupt the tablet space?

Research firm IDC expects a surge in tablet shipments this year and next, with Apple's iPad taking a greater market share at the expense of its Android rival.

Not only will the worldwide tablet market increase to 107.4 million in 2012 up from 69.6 percent in 2011, the iPad will reclaim back some of the market share it lost to Android last year.

This comes only a day after its parent company IDG forecast Android to outpace iPad sales in the enterprise space within the next 12 months. According to the poll, most tablet users opted for an iPad but first-time buyers indicated they would gravitate towards an Android-based tablet.

Talk about mixed signals.

The grip both Apple and Google has on the tablet market is staggering. The two companies continue to compete in the tablet space, leaving the remaining tablet makers out to pasture.

Having said that, the slither of red representing "other" tablet makers is the redundant yet most interesting figure.

In 2011, when there was 'actual' competition outside the two-horse race of the iPad and Android-based tablets, we saw rival devices from the HP TouchPad and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook.

Both tablets ultimately sank, the TouchPad's revival notwithstanding.

It's no surprise that in 2012, forecast figures show a decrease in competition outside the two top-ranking tablet behemoths. RIM is expected to drop from 1.7 percent of the market share to 1 percent. This follows the departure of the low-end 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook following poor sales.

But Windows-running tablets aren't taken into account. That's the figure everyone wants to see and IDC is playing it safe. While Windows tablet shipment predictions appear in its PC tracking reports, it is not included in the tablet space. The research firm will consolidate all media tablets --- including Windows RT devices --- into the media tablet tracker in the following quarter.

IDC doesn't remain optimistic about changes to the market share rankings, although notes the release of Windows RT-running tablets will likely push the overall shipment numbers up.

"We don't expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market," said IDC research director Tom Mainelli.

Image credit: IDC.