IDC: Apple to command tablet market with at least 50% share through 2016; Windows to hit 10% share in 4 years

A strong competitive landscape — including surging Android tablet shipments and robust demand for Apple’s new iPad mini — has led International Data Corporation (IDC) to increase its 2012 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million, up from its previous forecast of 117.1 million units. In the latest forecast update of the Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, IDC also raised its 2013 forecast number to 172.4 million units, up from 165.9 million units. And by 2016 worldwide shipments should reach 282.7 million units, up from a previous forecast of 261.4 million units.

“Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond,” said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets at IDC, in a statement. “Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others. And Apple’s November iPad mini launch, along with its surprise refresh of the full-sized iPad, positions the company well for a strong holiday season.”

In addition to increasing the unit totals for 2013, IDC also updated its operating system splits for the year to reflect Android’s growing strength in the tablet market. IDC now expects Android’s worldwide tablet share to increase from 39.8% in 2011 to 42.7% for the full year of 2012. During that same time Apple’s share will slip from 56.3% in 2011 to 53.8% in 2012. Long term, IDC predicts Windows-based tablets (including Windows 8 and Windows RT) will grab share from both iOS and Android, growing from 1% of the market in 2011 to 2.9% in 2012, on its way to 10.2% in 2016.

“The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space,” said Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. “Android tablet shipments will certainly act as the catalyst for growth in the low-cost segment in emerging markets given the platform’s low barrier to entry on manufacturing. At the same time, top-tier companies like Samsung, Lenovo, and ASUS are all launching Android tablets with comparable to premium products, but offered at much lower price points.”

Once again, IDC’s increase in tablet shipments comes at the expense of eReaders. IDC once again lowered its forecast for eReaders for 2012 and beyond. While the front-lit eReader offerings from Amazon and Barnes & Noble have captured the interest of a subset of consumers who prefer a dedicated eReader, most buyers are gravitating toward multi-use tablet products and finding a ‘good enough’ reading experience on these traditional back-lit tablets. IDC now expects 2012 eReader shipments to top out at 19.9 million units, down from the 27.7 million units that shipped in 2011.

Tablet Operating Systems, Market Share Forecast and CAGR 2012-2016

IDC: Tablet Operating Systems, Market Share Forecast and CAGR 2012-2016
IDC: Tablet Operating Systems, Market Share Forecast and CAGR 2012-2016 IDC: Tablet Operating Systems, Market Share Forecast and CAGR 2012-2016

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, December 5, 2012
Table Notes: Windows shipments include Windows RT, Windows 8, and Windows 7 tablets. Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the vendor/brand under which they are sold.

Source: International Data Corporation (IDC)


  1. The biggest “piece of the pie” in computing (not just tablets) is still Windows PC users (on non-tablet computers). iPad will continue to steadily steal share away from THAT segment. These are the customers who a few years ago would have purchased a small cheap laptop. Remember, iPad was released in 2010 as Apple’s answer to Windows PC “netbooks,” not other tablets, because iPad created the tablet market. There were essentially no other tablets.

    And THAT is how Apple’s iPad sales will continue to grow, NOT by competing with low-end Android tablets that sell at negative profit fire sale prices by design.

  2. The BIG missing story:
    • iOS devices at 49.7% of tablet devices
    • Mac OSX at 25% to 50% of a much smaller PC market that may be half or a quarter of today’s size

    Would that not make Apple the world’s biggest computer manufacturer in only 3 to 4 years with 35% to maybe 50% market share. As Apple continues to innovate and miniaturize it’s products, more sophisticated, smaller and faster SOC and ARM chips on the way and a mature SIRI (no longer in a beta form) backed by more billion dollar server farms. And what will be about $200 billion of cash in the bank.

    Do they really understand what Apple is becoming and what it is now? NO!

  3. Windows 8 will be abandonware/toast by mid 2013 so hardly going to capture any percentage points between now and 2016 with a dead tablet OS.

    2013 is when Microsoft goes back to its roots and gives up on phones and tablets entirely.

  4. There is some logic to the numbers but I don’t think IDC is actually seeing it.

    As you increase the size of the tablet market, you are adding the tail end of the IQ distribution curve. This could explain that more and more owners of tablets get conned into the cheaper crap proposition.

    An unfortunate and ugly truth but, average intelligence decreases as you increase the size of a population or group.

    50% of people being under average seems about right for a matching iPad market share. This is so sad but it does explain a lot of Android. And Microsoft sales. (Although Microsoft is now catering to the bottom 15% of remaing retards instead of the merely below average)

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