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According to the latest IDC Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker Apple's iPad will get back some of the market share it lost to Android tablets in 2011 and is forecast to take over 62 percent of worldwide sales.
The bump is part of an overall rise in tablet sales for 2012 which IDC estimates to reach 107.4 million units, up from 69.6 million in 2011 and just 19.4 million in 2010.
"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 IDC's Mobile Connected Devices unit. "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."
Apple's share of the tablet market is seen as reaching 69.8 million units which accounts for 62.5 percent of global sales. The iPad dominated in 2011 with a 58.2 percent market share but that number was down from the device's launch year which saw iOS tablet sales take an unprecedented 76.2 percent piece of the pie. The growth will eat away at Android market share that is pegged to fall 2.3 percent from the 38.8 percent seen in 2011.
"After a very strong launch of new products in March, Apple's iPad shows few signs of slowing down," Mainelli said. "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.
Mainelli adds that Apple's market presence would be further strengthened if the company releases a rumored 7-inch iPad model as the presumedly low entry price will possibly break into untapped demographics. The company is said to be readying such a device for launch sometime this fall.
If and when a smaller iPad makes a debut, it will have to contend not only with Android tablets but also devices running Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT. While the IDC does not currently include the two new operating systems as part of its forecast, the firm will be adding them next quarter as devices hit store shelves. Although the market share is not expected to be high, it should be noted that the Windows-based tablets do appear in IDC's PC market tracker.
The tablet market is expected to grow to 222.1 million units by 2016, offering plenty of room for new competition. What remains to be seen is whether Android can wrest away enough market share from iOS to even the playing field or if Microsoft's new Windows devices will be the one to pick up the scraps.