Tablets: Numbers and Observations

on May 3, 2012

Both IDC and Display Search released updated numbers for the tablet segment. There are some interesting key take aways from both sets of numbers.

IDC confirms Apple’s dominant position with regards to iPad share and points to slumping Android shipments for tablets which is no surprise. The Display Search data is a bit more comprehensive which includes forecasts as well as OS share in the press release.

There is one thing that sticks out to me and it is related to Windows 8. In the IDC press release they make it clear that Windows 8’s impact is too early to tell. Whereas Display Search takes a stab at forecasting share for Windows 8 and RT but gives the advantage to Windows RT over Windows 8. This is interesting because it implies that from Display Search’s standpoint they do not have much confidence in Windows 8 on X86 but have some confidence in Windows RT to gain some traction in the tablet market.

If you look at the updated numbers from all the major forecasting firms, it is becoming clear that most, if not all, acknowledge that the tablet market could be larger than the notebook and desktop market. Regardless of your belief on that point the bottom line is that tablets and smartphones are the only real growth segments of the computing industry. IDC still is committed to calling all tablet “media tablets” which I think is wrong. There is no doubt at this point in time that tablets are computing platforms not just media consumption platforms.

In Display Search’s numbers, I think they are being overly generous to Android given the trouble it has said so far in tablets. I personally tend to believe that Windows 8 or Windows RT has more of a chance in the tablet market to succeed.

I still remain convinced that Apple will remain the undisputed leader in tablets due to the iPad becoming the standard in terms of tablet computers. In this release, my friend Richard Shim rightly points out that as the tablet market matures there will be opportunities for segmentation within the sector as vendors carve out differentiation.

As with all forecasts we have to take them with a grain of salt to a degree. Things can change quick and a couple of factors, like subsidization, could drive tablet shipments much faster than is currently being forecasted.

The bottom line is, vendors who are not establishing a tablet strategy may very well be left out of one of the hottest segments of computing we have seen in some time.