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By 14 March 2012 | Categories: news

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It’s common knowledge that tablets are only growing in popularity; less common is how dramatic that growth is and how wildly popular they are.
 
So much so, in fact, that even well respected market intelligence companies like the International Development Corporation (IDC) have found themselves having to revise their forecast for tablet sales in the year ahead.
 
According to the company’s latest report, the IDC has increased its previous projection of 87.7 million tablets being shipped in 2012 to 106.1 million units.
 
If this turns out to be correct, it would represent close to 40 million more units being shipped this year than in 2011.
 
Strong end to a good year
 
The IDC elaborated that tablet shipments rose by 56.1% on a sequential basis in the fourth calendar quarter of 2011, to 28.2 million units worldwide, which represented a staggering 155% increase from the same period in 2010. Total shipments of tablets in 2011 was a respectable 68.7 million units.
 
Not surprisingly, Apple led the charge of a year that ended off strongly, shipping 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 11.1 million units in the third quarter of the year.
 
This, the company explained, gave Apple a 54.7% worldwide market share of fourth-quarter shipments. Amazon’s Kindle Fire grabbed second place with 16.8%, while Samsung garnered third place with 5.8% market share.
 
Chart: Worldwide Media Tablet Shipments Split by OS Historical and Forecast* 2010 - 2016 (Units in Millions)Description: Source: Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet & e-Reader Tracker, March 12, 2012Note: IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet & e-Reader Tracker provides total market size and vendor share for both the Media Tablet and eReader markets in 46 countries. Detailed historical segmentation is provided by CPU type, operating system, connectivity type, screen size and resolution, storage capacity, distribution channel, and customer segment. Measurement for this tracker is in units, value, and end-user price. For more information, or to subscribe to the research, please contact Kathy Nagamine at 1-650-350-6423 or knagamine@idc.com. Further detail about this tracker can be found at:http://www.idc.com/tracker/showproductinfo.jsp?prod_id=81Tags: IDC, Tracker, Worldwide, Media Tablets, Media Tablet, OS, Android, iOS ...Author: IDCcharts powered by iCharts
 
Ripple effect
 
However, the more interesting part of the story is that the sales of one manufacturer’s devices seems to have a ripple effect on the tablet sector as a whole.
 
"Amazon's widely-reported entry into the media tablet market with a $199, 7” product seemed to raise consumers' awareness of the category worldwide despite the fact that the Fire shipped almost exclusively in the US in the fourth quarter," explained Tom Mainelli, research director of Mobile Connected Devices at IDC.
 
"As a result, products across the pricing spectrum sold well, including everything from Apple's premium-priced iPads to Pandigital's line of Android-based, entry-level tablets,” he elaborated. In fact, the Kindle Fire’s adoption apparently also helped the Android OS make strong gains in the fourth quarter of 2011, due to the Fire running a custom version of Google's Android OS.
 
Apple, however, may be a little less enamoured with Amazon. The IDC explained that as a result of the Fire’s popularity, Android grew its market share from 32.3% in the third quarter of 2011 to 44.6% in the fourth quarter of the year, chipping away at iOS’s previous 61.6% market share and leaving it with 54.7%.
 
Additionally, the company further expects Android to continue to grow its share of the market at the expense of iOS.

"As the sole vendor shipping iOS products, Apple will remain dominant in terms of worldwide vendor unit shipments," Mainelli said. "However, the sheer number of vendors shipping low-priced, Android-based tablets means that Google's OS will overtake Apple's in terms of worldwide market share by 2015. We expect iOS to remain the revenue market share leader through the end of our 2016 forecast period and beyond," he continued.
 
Corporate appeal
 
Even so, Apple is probably not about to start losing sleep just yet. The announcement of its new iPad (roundly but unofficially dubbed the iPad 3) has been swiftly followed by a report from independent research company, ChangeWave Research, that 84% of companies planning to buy tablets in the next quarter now say they’ll purchase iPads.
 
The company added that this figure is the highest level of corporate iPad demand ever seen in a ChangeWave survey. Additionally, 22% of the companies surveyed indicated that they would be buying tablets for their employees in the upcoming months.
 
To the point
 
In short, this means three things: no market is apparently safe from iPad’s inexorable appeal, Android is still a worthy adversary, and the tablet market is far bigger and growing far faster than even the best pundits can reasonably anticipate.  

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