The growing popularity of smaller, low-cost Android tablets has forced IDC to upwards revise its forecast for the tablet market in 2013. And while the report makes for good reading if you're Google or Amazon, Windows 8 vendors should probably look away now.
The research group now expects 190.9 million tablets to ship in 2013, a slight but significant increase from its previous forecast of 172.4 million, and believes that booming demand for tablets will eventually see shipments skyrocket to 350 million units by the end of 2017.
"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond" said Jitesh Ubrani, one of the research analysts for IDC’s Tablet Tracker.
"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."
This growing trend for smaller tablets is good news for Google’s Android operating system, with IDC now expecting 48.8% of all tablets to be Android-powered this year, compared to its previous estimate of 41.5%.
These figures aren’t such good news for Apple and reveal, as other market researchers have done since the turn of the year, that the iPad is losing market share. IDC now forecasts that Apple’s market share will fall from 51% in 2012 to 46% by 2013.
The outlook isn’t quite as positive for Microsoft’s Windows 8 however, with this new data suggesting that Windows 8 will crawl from a market share of 1% in 2012 to 7% by 2017. Windows RT, the ARM-based version of Windows 8, is expected to stay under 3% during the same 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," said IDC’s research director of tablets, Tom Mainelli.
"Consumers aren't 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."