updated 02:25 pm EDT, Thu July 14, 2011
Nomura sees iPad eclipsed by rivals in three years
An unusually dissenting report from Nomura analysts Thursday estimated that the iPad would be eclipsed by its tablet rivals in three years. Working on the basis that Apple will ship 35 million iPads this year versus everyone else's 20 million, the researchers saw the lead narrowing substantially in 2012 and 2013, with the iPad finally losing an absolute majority in 2014 as 83 million non-Apple tablets trade hands to 78 million iPads.
The balance might be tipped by Microsoft. Although it would still remain the smallest category, Windows 8 tablets using ARM processors would swell from five million a year in its inaugural 2012 year to 20 million by 2014. ARM would also play an increasing role in traditional PCs at 23 million three years from now.
Microsoft would be the "game changer" that would break up the established order, Nomura said, although not until 2013. Android would be helped by this year's Ice Cream Sandwich update.
In the short term, Apple is still poised to have 65 percent of the market and would still only face any significant threat from Samsung. Tablets like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 are expected to give Samsung 13 percent of the tablet arena this year where no one else, including RIM, will crack more than four percent. In 2012, the split would be a virtual repeat among the major plays with only Samsung and "others" cutting into the iPad's share in any way, according to the prediction.
Multi-year projections often have at least some significant inaccuracy as they can be prone to wildcard factors. An unusually popular tablet, a product failure, or a platform switch could significantly alter the landscape, for example. Nomura's view is uncommon both in predicting a longer lead than thought by some firms but also maintains that Windows 8 will play a significant factor in Apple losing its absolute majority.
Microsoft has historically struggled to get more than niche adoption of Windows tablets but will, for the first time, have a genuinely touch-optimized interface as well as access to processors that give competitive battery life and slim profiles it hasn't had access to before.