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Tablet sales to stay sizzling, IDC says

Demand for tablets is accelerating, the research firm says, as the market shifts toward smaller screen sizes and lower prices.

Google Nexus 10
Google's Nexus 10 is among the tablet choices this holiday season.
Josh Miller/CNET

As if we didn't already know that the tablet market is the hottest thing this side of a pizza oven, IDC today raised its forecast for the tablet market for 2012 and beyond.

The fuel for the fired-up forecast? Greater variety among tablet choices as new, and often cheaper, devices crowd onto store shelves.

"Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower price points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets, said in a statement.

IDC now predicts that for 2012, tablet shipments worldwide will hit 122.3 million, up a notch from its earlier forecast of 117.1 million units. Apparently, things are looking bright for the seasonal consumer spending spree.

"Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others," Mainelli said. "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."

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble crowed last week about early holiday activity, with each claiming, respectively, a doubling of sales of Kindle and Nook devices over the Black Friday weekend. The latest iPads, meanwhile, got off to a hot start a few weeks earlier.

But the iPad is suffering just a bit at the hands of the various Android offerings. In its report today, IDC said that it now expects Android's worldwide tablet share for 2012 to reach 42.7 percent, up from 39.8 percent in 2011, as Apple's tablet OS share slips to 53.8 percent in 2012, compared with 56.3 percent in 2011.

Looking further ahead, IDC also raised its 2013 forecast for worldwide tablet shipments to 172.4 million units and said that by 2016, shipments should reach 282.7 million units. And by that time, IDC predicts, both Apple and Android will see slippage in their hold on the overall tablet market, to 49.7 percent for Apple's iOS and 39.7 percent for Android.

If that downward shift comes to pass, blame Microsoft. IDC says that it foresees Windows tablets, including the newly released Windows 8 and Window RT devices, getting a stronger grip on the market, growing from a combined 2.9 percent predicted for this year to 10.3 percent in 2016.

Chart: Worldwide Tablet Market Forecast by OS, Unit Shipments, 3Q 2012Description: Worldwide Quarterly Tablet TrackerIDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tracker provides total market size and vendor share for both the Tablet and eReader markets in 46 countries. Detailed segmentation is provided by CPU, operating system, connectivity type, screen size and resolution, storage, 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 Further detail about this tracker can be found at: ipad, apple, android, nexus, tablet, forecast, idc, tracker, 3Q, Q3, 2012, market, share,size, windows, RT, blackberry, playbook, google, kindle, amazon, predictAuthor: IDCcharts powered by iCharts