updated 06:35 pm EDT, Wed May 18, 2011
iSuppli sees iPad-like tablets lead through 2015
Mobile OS-based tablets like the iPad or Android models will overwhelm Windows tablet PCs by a factor of ten to one, IHS iSuppli estimated on Wednesday. The analyst team believed Windows PCs would grow at a slightly faster rate, at 81.5 percent versus 72.1 percent, but that it was starting from so far behind that Apple, Google, and others would have a combined average size ten times that of Windows-led PC tablets through to about 2015. About 262.1 million iPad-class tablets could be shipping by that year where 45.2 million PC-level tablets would be around at the same time, still a factor of almost six to one.
There would always be a need for tablets with "full PC functionality," group director Rhoda Alexander said, but the category was now known to be inherently set against Microsoft's current strategy. Tablets favored consuming content over creating it, such as watching video, reading books, and playing games. All of these heavily favored the iPad, Xoom, and others of their kind.
Windows PC tablets were meant for work and might always have an advantage over platforms using a mobile OS for productivity. Many problems were keeping them from widespread adoption, however. Most are poorly optimized for touch, boot slowly, and are prone to crash, all of which mobile platforms have solved. Windows 8 might solve it with a tablet-native interface, but its launch isn't due until 2012 and might not get traction for years in the conservative business world Microsoft often serves.
Until the iPad arrived in 2010, Microsoft had largely relegated tablets to a niche category. The company's insistence on using desktop Windows and pen-based computing, combined with its unwillingness to significantly alter the interface or create tablet-optimized apps, left tablets at just a fraction the size of the notebook field. Apple's approach saw it outsell every Windows tablet ever made in nine months and led companies like Dell and HP to shift their Windows tablet aims from home users to niche corporate buyers.