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According to the revised prediction of media tablets shipments by International Data Corp., a surge of smaller, lower-priced devices will not only expand the worldwide tablet market to 190.9 million in 2013, up from its previous forecast of 172.4 million units, but will also help Google Android platform to outpace Apple iOS as the world’s most widely used OS for slates.

"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8” in screen size. In terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond. Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits," said Jitesh Ubrani, a research analyst at IDC.

The renowned market research firm recently said that shipments of media tablets based on various operating systems totaled 128.3 million units in 2012, a substantial 80% increase from 70.9 million a year before. IDC forecasts that shipments of tablets will further grow by 48% year-over-year in 2013 and will reach 190.9 million. In 2017 almost a million of tablets will be sold daily and the total shipments are projected to reach whopping 350 million a year.

Google Android-based tablets expanded their share of the market notably in 2012, and IDC expects that trend to continue in 2013. Android's share of the market is forecast to reach a peak of 48.8% in 2013 compared to 41.5% in IDC's previous forecast. Android's gains come at the expense of Apple's iOS, which is expected to slip from 51% of the market in 2012 to 46% in 2013. Longer term, both iOS and Android will eventually relinquish some market share to Microsoft Corp.’s Windows-based tablets, with Windows 8 predicted to grow from 1% of the market in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017. IDC expects Windows RT growth to remain below 3% during the forecast period.

"Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far. Consumers are not 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," said Tom Mainelli, research director of tablets at IDC.

While IDC continues to revise its tablet forecast upward, the firm had done the opposite with the e-book reader forecast. The growth of low-cost tablets is clearly damaging the prospects of the single-use e-book readers, and IDC reduced its forecast for the category by an average of 14% between 2013 and 2016. IDC believes e-book reader shipments peaked in 2011 at 26.4 million units. After declining to 18.2 million units in 2012, the category is expected to grow only modestly in 2013 and 2014, before it begins a gradual and permanent decline beginning in 2015.

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

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