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Continued robust consumer demand, and strong expectations for the Q4, has led International Data Corp. (IDC) to increase its forecast for the worldwide tablet market in 2012 as well as for the forthcoming years. The firm now believes that Apple will continue to dominate the market of tablets till at least 2016, whereas Microsoft Windows for tablets will grow faster than expected.

"Despite ongoing economic concerns in most regions of the world, consumers continue to buy tablets in record numbers and we expect particularly strong demand in the fourth quarter," said Tom Mainelli, research director of mobile connected devices at IDC.

IDC now expects all companies to supply 117.1 million tablets, up from its previous forecast of 107.4 million units for the year. In the latest forecast update, the firm also revised upward its 2013 forecast number from 142.8 million units to 165.9 million units. By 2016 worldwide shipments of slate-type personal computers should reach 261.4 million units. The market tracking company has also revised some of the general trends, for example, Google Android is no longer projected to outsell iOS on the media tablet market.

"Apple leads the market with its iPad, and we expect its dominance to continue in the second half of the year. Still, we believe there is room in the market for others to find success, and new Android- and Windows-based products shipping in the coming months will give consumers plenty of buying options during the holiday season," explained Mr. Mainelli.

In addition to increasing the unit totals for 2012, IDC also updated its taxonomy to include Windows-based slates. Windows tablets (which include Windows 7 tablets shipping today, and Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets shipping in the fourth quarter of 2012) are expected to grow from about 1% of the market in 2011 to 4% in 2012, on their way to 11% of the market by 2016. During those same years iOS will grow from 57.2% in 2011 to 60% in 2012, eventually slipping back to 58% by 2016; Android will slip from 38.9% to 35.3%, declining to 30.5% by 2016.

"Tablets running Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 and RT operating systems, including the company's own Surface tablets, will add some momentum. However, we expect shipments to remain low in the fourth quarter as high prices and consumer confusion around these devices will limit their appeal. Also, in the second half of the year Android should benefit from the success of the Nexus 7 and Amazon's launch of new Kindle Fires," said Jennifer Song, research analyst for IDC's worldwide trackers.

While IDC has increased its forecast for tablets in 2012, the firm significantly lowered its forecast for e-book readers in 2012. After a disappointing first half of the year, and strong indications that sub-$200 tablets are significantly impacting demand, IDC now expects 2012 shipments to top out at 23.6 million units, down from the 27.7 million units that shipped in 2011.

Tags: IDC, Apple, iOS, Samsung, Google, Android, Galaxy Tab, webOS, HP, Blackberry, Amazon, B&N, iPad, Kindle, Kindle Fire, Nook

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