In figures released today, the research company claimed that tablet shipments are set to jump from 81.6 million units in 2011 to 424.9 million units by 2017, with the form-factor overtaking notebook shipments in 2016. This expected tablet boom has even forced the researcher to tweak its tablet forecast for 2013, with the firm now having raised the expecting 184.2 million tablets to ship in the year (it had previously forecast 168.9 million).
Tablet shipments will be driven by OS competition, new tablet features
So, what are the reasons for the rise? DisplaySearch attributes this expected increase to the growing diversity of operating systems and improving tablet features, but has added a note of caution that component manufacturers will now be tested to see if they can keep up with this explosive market demand, an issue which is currently facing chipmaker Qualcomm.
“So far in this relatively young product category, the tablet PC market has been dominated by Apple and has tended to include a number of competing products that are similarly configured to the iPad,” said DisplaySearch’s senior analyst for mobile, Richard Shim.
“However, as the market matures and competitors become better attuned to consumer preferences and find opportunities to break new ground, we expect the landscape to change dramatically, giving consumers more choices, which will drive demand for more devices.”
Windows 8 is going to be a slow burner
As previously mentioned above, DisplaySearch sees the tablet market as to being driven by a number of different operating systems but, sadly for Steve Ballmer, it is Android and not Windows which is expected to pick off the most market share, as Apple takes a slide in popularity.
Indeed, the research company believes that Apple’s (iOS) market share will drop from 72.1% in 2012 to 50.9% in 2017, with Google’s Android increasing from 22.5% to 40.5% over the same time-frame. The news is not so good for Windows RT (Microsoft’s ARM-based version for Windows 8 tablets), which is forecast to grow from 1.5% this year to just 7.5% in 2017, further proof that Windows 8 is, as researchers suggested, going to be a slow burner in the tablet market.
Display manufacturers are getting serious about tablets, OLED displays have a future
In terms of manufacturing, the good news for the tablet industry appears to be that display manufacturers are shifting production to their larger, more technologically advanced plans, include Gen 6 and Gen 8 plants, which should lead to a greater capacity and cheaper display prices.
And in terms of display innovation, DisplaySearch believes that the OLED displays commonly found on today’s smartphones could also be coming to tablets, with the group having forecast the share of AMOLED displays on tablets to grow from 3% in 2012 to 30% by 2017.
DisplaySearch’s report made no mention of Apple’s high-resolution 2048 x 1536 Retina Display for the new iPad, or whether Apple rivals are planning to follow suit with premium tablets with better-than-HD displays.