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Tablet forecast jumps as strong sales beat estimates

07 Dec 2012
Tablet computer

Strong sales performances from recently-unveiled devices have pushed up analyst estimates on what was already expected to be a record year in the tablet market.

Research firm IDC said that it would upgrading its 2012 annual tablet sales estimates from 117.1 million units to 122.3 million. IDC said the success of 7in tablets, such as Google's Nexus 7 and Apple's iPad Mini had convinced it to up its forecasts.

"Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," said IDC tablet research director Tom Mainelli.

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

Apple's iOS line is expected to take the lion's share of this year's tablet harvest with a 53.8 percent market share. Android was close behind with a 42.7 per cent stake, followed by Windows, which entered the tablet market late in the year and is expected to take a 2.9 percent cut of sales.

IDC estimated that next year, vendors will move some 172.4 million tablets, while annual sales could reach as high as 261.4 million units sold by the end of 2016.

The success of the tablet sector comes despite predictions of down years for many other corners of the enterprise and consumer electronics markets. Researchers have estimated that slow sales will bring down years in markets ranging from PC sales to semiconductor shipments.

According to IDC, the biggest losses to stem from the growth of tablets will be in the e-reader space. The company predicts that 22 will see annual e-reader shipments hit 19.9 million units, down from a total of 27.7 million units in 2011.

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Shaun Nichols

Shaun Nichols is the US correspondent for He has been with the company since 2006, originally joining as a news intern at the site's San Francisco offices.

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