updated 02:35 pm EDT, Tue March 13, 2012
IDC optimistic on tablets, Android's chances
IDC on Tuesday gave its own breakdown of world tablet share from this fall and painted an optimistic look at Android's position in the market. Going higher than others' estimates, the research team believed that Amazon shipped 4.7 million Kindle Fires, or enough to stake out 16.8 percent of tablets worldwide. Along with a slight gain from Samsung to 5.8 percent, the prediction would have knocked Apple down from 61.5 percent last summer to 54.7 percent in the last few months of 2011.
Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet wasn't enough to stop a full point decline to 3.5 percent, while Pandigital's ultra-budget color e-readers and tablets also dropped to 2.5 percent. It's implied that every other tablet maker, including one-time major competitors like HTC, LG, Motorola, and RIM, had less share.
The Kindle Fire, along with strong iPad sales, led to IDC seeing a rising-tide effect, where at least the Kindle Fire was increasing awareness of tablets and growing the entire market, even for higher-end, full-featured tablets.
Accordingly, the analysts boosted their 2012 forecast by a full 20 percent to 106.1 million shipped the whole year. They eventually expected Android to overtake iOS in tablets in 2015, although this would be a much slower rate than for smartphones, where it took three years for Google to gain hold.
Whether or not Android will reach the goal isn't apparent. The prediction makes a number of assumptions, including that the Kindle Fire's only
quarter on the market is a predictor of long-term success and that the new iPad won't have had any disproportionate effect on sales. The data so far points to every Android tablet designer outside of Amazon and Samsung being on the decline, and thus any success for Android riding on whether or not their lineups lure buyers. A conservative Samsung update, a cheaper $399 iPad 2, and a possible smaller iPad may skew the results.