Tablet demand isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, with market researcher IDC today upwards revising its forecast for 107.4 million tablets to be sold in 2012, before more than doubling to 222.1 million units by 2016.
The research firm announced its findings in its latest Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, and believes that future tablet sales will be driven by Windows 8, as well as demand in the commercial space.
"Demand for media tablets remains robust, and we see an increasing interest in the category from the commercial side," said Tom Mainelli, research director of mobile connected devices at IDC. "We expect pending new products from major players, increasingly affordable mainstream devices, and a huge marketing blitz from Microsoft around Windows 8 to drive increased consumer interest in the category through the end of the year."
IDC believes that Apple’s iOS will continue to dominate over Android, and claims that iOS market share will increase from 58.2% in 2011 to 62.5% in 2012, with Android falling from 38.7% to 36.5% over the same time-frame. RIM’s Blackberry sits in a distant third place, and is forecast to drop from 1.7% to 1%.
“After a very strong launch of new products in March, Apple's iPad shows few signs of slowing down," added Mainelli. "The addition of the Retina Display and 4G capabilities to the third-generation products clearly enticed many current owners to upgrade. And Apple's decision to keep two iPad 2s in the market at lower prices--moving the entry-level price down to $399--seems to be paying off as well.
"If Apple launches a sub-$300, 7-inch product into the market later this year as rumored, we expect the company's grip on this market to become even stronger."
IDC does not include Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets in its Media Tablet Tracker forecasting service, as they appear in the PC forecast, but the firm does plan to revise the way it tracks tablet sales in the next quarter. The group expects Windows 8 tablets to boost the overall tablet market, but not necessarily take share away from Apple or Android.
As a side note, the research group also interestingly stated that low-cost tablets are having a negative impact on eReaders, with the firm now having ‘significantly’ reduced its forecast for the form-factor for 28 million units to be shipped this year. Approximately 28.2 million eReaders were shipped in 2011, according to IDC.