Google Android Tablets to Outsell Apple iPad in Three or Four Years - Forecast

IDC: Android Will Continue to Grow Its Tablet Share at Expense of iOS

by Anton Shilov
03/13/2012 | 09:50 PM

Google Android-based smartphones clearly outsell Apple iPhones across the world by a couple of times. Nevertheless, media tablet market is Apple's stronghold that Google yet has to conquer.  In fact, International Data Corp. expects Android-powered tablets to outsell Apple iPads only in 2015 or 2016.


It is well known that media tablets became extremely popular back in 2011 and were sold in quantities between 65.2 and 68.7 million, according to different data. It is not a secret that as various vendors rolled-out their tablets based on Google Android, especially Amazon, B&N and Samsung, targeting different price segments, share of Apple iOS on media tablet market decreased significantly in Q4 2011. Looking ahead, IDC expects Android to continue to grow its share of the market at the expense of iOS.

"As the sole vendor shipping iOS products, Apple will remain dominant in terms of worldwide vendor unit shipments. However, the sheer number of vendors shipping low-priced, Android-based tablets means that Google's OS will overtake Apple's in terms of worldwide market share by 2015. We expect iOS to remain the revenue market share leader through the end of our 2016 forecast period and beyond," said Tom Mainelli, research director of mobile connected devices at IDC.

It is noteworthy that IDC is extremely skeptic about market performance of Microsoft Windows 8-based tablets in 2012 and going forward. According to the company's data, tablets powered by "other" OSs will be sold only in 2.7 million unit quantities in 2016, which is very surprising, given the interest towards Windows 8 from hardware suppliers. The potential success of Windows 8 tablets will mean that IDC's current forecast will turn out to be completely inaccurate.

The market of media tablets experienced stronger-than-expected growth across many regions and at many price points, leading to a full-year 2011 total of 68.7 million units. Based upon the markets' strong 2011 finish, and the clear demand expected in 2012, IDC has increased its 2012 forecast to 108.1 million units, up from its previous forecast of 87.7 million units.

According to IDC, worldwide media tablet OS rankings for Q4 2011 look as follows:

Apple iOS: 54.7% (down from 61.6% in Q3 2011)
Google Android: 44.6% (up from 32.3% in Q3 2011)
HP webOS: 0% (down from 5% in Q3 2011)
RIM Blackberry: 0.7% (down from 1.1% in Q3 2011)

Despite the strong growth of media tablet shipments, ePaper-based e-book readers also experienced stronger-than-expected growth in the Q4 2011. That growth occurred thanks to sharp price cuts in established markets such as the U.S. and Canada, as well as increasing shipments in regions outside of North America.

In Q4 2011 the worldwide total e-book reader shipments increased to 10.7 million units, up from 6.5 million units in Q3 2011. That represents a quarter-over-quarter improvement of 64.6% and a year-over-year improvement of 64.3%. IDC expects growth to continue in 2012 as major players such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo look to expand into new international markets.

"Publishers in markets outside of North America are only just beginning to warm up to the idea of e-books. Once Amazon and others persuade these content owners to embrace digital formats, we expect eBook reader shipments into these regions to increase more rapidly," said Mr. Mainelli.