Sales of Android tablets will overtake Apple’s iPad in 2013, while Microsoft is suffering from a split strategy in the sector, research firm IDC claims.
The firm predicts Android tablets will eclipse Apple units for the first time this year, with a market share of 48.8% compared to the iPad’s 46%. While the predicted lead of Android devices is slim, it comes at the expense of Apple’s device, which held 51% of the market in 2012.
IDC has also increased its forecast for the total number of tablets that will be shipped in 2013 from 172.4 million to 190.9 million, due to growing sales of smaller units and lower prices.
“One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8-inches in screen size. [I]n terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond,” IDC research analyst Jitesh Ubrani says.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is struggling to cash in on that growth due to its decision to sell two different operating systems – Window 8 and Windows RT - research director Tom Mainelli notes. “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.”
IDC predicts Windows 8’s share of tablet sales will grow from 2.8% in 2012 to 7.4% in 2017, and Windows RT’s share from 1.9% to 2.7%.
The rise of small, low-cost, tablets will also impact sales of dedicated e-readers. The firm forecasts sales in 2013 and 2014 will rise modestly from the 18.2 million units sold in 2012, before tailing off from 2015 onwards.