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Electronics Production | February 07, 2011

Hello to iPad, Ahoy to Android

Global shipments of tablets—a segment consisting of media tablets like Apple’s iPad as well as PC-type tablets—are set to rise to 242.3 million units in 2015, up by a factor of more than 12 from 2010, new IHS iSuppli research indicates.
Updated; February 07, 2011 3:19 PM
Media tablet shipments will grow to more than 202 million units in 2015, up from 17.4 million in 2010. Shipments of PC-type tablets—i.e., tablets that have full PC functionality implemented via PC operating systems—will climb to 39.3 million units in 2015, up from 2.3 million in 2010.

Total shipments of tablets will amount to 242.3 million units in 2015, up from the newly finalized IHS iSuppli estimate of 19.7 million in 2010.

While the iPad will lead annual tablet shipments through 2012, the increasing strength of media-tablet rivals combined with the advent of PC-type platforms will cause Apple to lose its majority of total unit shipments starting in 2013.

Wave hello to iPad

Prior to the introduction of the iPad in 2010, the tablet market represented a sleepy niche of the mobile PC market, with small volumes, negligible growth, and sales limited to small group of users in professional markets. Shipments of these PC-type tablets amounted to less than 2 million units in 2009. The arrival of the iPad changed all that, helping tablet sales surge by a factor of 10 in 2010.

The iPad’s huge head start both in unit share and ecosystem development will allow it to maintain its market dominance in 2011 and throughout most of 2012 despite the influx of competitors.

Android ahoy

New model introductions in 2011 and 2012 will continue to boost iPad volumes and allow Apple to maintain a premium for its newest models. However, Apple will face increasing price competition from competing media tablets, many of them incorporating the Android operating system. Some of those tablets will enter the market with features more comparable—or in some cases, superior—to the current version of the iPad. Furthermore, Google is spearheading an effort to speed development of tablet-oriented content for Android-based devices.

Aside from the LTE differentiator, Google also is spearheading an effort to speed development of tablet-oriented content and the user interface for Android based devices.

The rising tide of PC tablets

By 2013, the iPad will decline to less than 50 percent of overall tablet shipments, as it faces the double jeopardy of increasing competition from Android-based tablets combined with the rise of devices using PC operating systems, possibly including some from Apple.

Microsoft likely will introduce a tablet-oriented version of its Windows operating system in late 2012 or in 2013 that not only will be better suited to touch-screen applications, but also will allow for content-creation tasks. The expected expansion of the current consumption-oriented media tablets to incorporate more creation applications is placing growing pressure on traditional low-end mobile PCs, and the existing Windows solutions are struggling to gain traction in the tablet market.

The wide variety of solutions—and intense battle among operating systems and types of platforms—will continue to fuel the expansion of the tablet market in 2014 and 2015.

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