It is unsurprising that Android still leads the IDC's latest forecast for tablet shipments. The market intelligence expert, however, is making several predictions that could somewhat change the face of the tablet market come 2017.
Compared to 2012, tablet shipments are expected to reach 221.3 million units this year. The figure dips ever so slightly compared to an earlier 227.4 million forecast but is still pretty much above 53.5 percent of 2012 numbers. Of this number, Android will be bagging 60.8 percent, up from 52.0 percent last year. Apple's iOS, however, goes down from 45.6 percent to 35.0 percent this year. While both will remain at the top two spots, IDC believes the ratio will change a little in four years' time.
By 2017, both Android's and iOS' share in tablet shipments would drop just a bit to make room for the third player in the race. Microsoft Windows is expected to climb a few notches higher, up to 10.2 percent, in 2017, not enough to displace the top two but a significant increase nonetheless. IDC believes that it will be an uphill battle for Windows, however. Although Microsoft and Intel have been quite aggressive in marketing 2-in-1 tablet/laptop hybrids, some of which are, admittedly, quite powerful, they still lack the needed visibility in the market to become a worthy contender.
Part of Windows' rise in shipments, according to IDC, will be due to the tablet market slowly gravitating back to tablets with larger sizes, a form factor that Windows serves best. As large-sized smartphones or phablets start to cannibalize the small tablet market, buyers are predicted to opt for larger tablets in order to differentiate their phones from their tablets. Of course, these are all just forecasts that are still a few years away. Android might have very well changed significantly to accommodate devices with very large screens by then.