Android devices may be locked in a heated battle for supremacy with the iPhone, but the iPad has never really had much competition. Cheaper devices, like the Nexus 7, has ensured that some players find some form of success, but Apple is still the company to beat in the tablet market. That all may change this year.
IDC released a revised tablet market forecast for the year today with the major takeaway being that Android tablets may finally become the dominant player in the market. The availability of cheap tablets, most noticeably Android tablets, will lead to tablet shipments to see a sizable increase this year.
The firm predicts that the worldwide tablet market will ship 190.9 million devices over the course of this year with Android making up 48.8 percent of the shipments. Apple isn't too far behind, however, with 46 percent of total shipments. Android may become the dominant player this year thanks to the wide breadth of options available, but it's incredibly impressive to see Apple stand toe-to-toe in shipments with only three models.
Both iOS and Android will see some losses in their marketshare over the next five years as Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets start to take hold. IDC predicts, however, that these Windows tablets will be much like their Windows Phone 8 counterparts - a distant third place with Windows 8 tablets expected to only command 7.4 percent of the market by 2017.
"Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far," said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets. "Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road."
Those who prefer eReaders over tablets may not like what's coming next as IDC's final prediction for the next five years sees the tablet precursors only having a few more years of growth ahead of it before the market starts an irreversible downward trend in 2015. By then, however, most consumers will have probably switched to multimedia tablets as the market will drive down prices to super affordable levels by then.