IDC revises upward its tablet shipment forecast

CANNIBALIZING::Tablets are selling well despite the economic downturn, with some saying this is partly because they are taking away orders from laptops

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 13

Market researcher International Data Corp (IDC) yesterday revised upward its forecast for tablet computer shipments this year and next year, citing robust consumer demand and strong sales prospects in the fourth quarter.

In the meantime, the researcher said it had significantly lowered its forecast for e-reader shipments for the year, on weaker sales in the first half and the demand cannibalization of lower-priced tablets.

IDC said it now expects global shipments of tablets to reach 117.1 million units this year, up 9 percent from its previous forecast of 107.4 million units made on June 14. The new figure represents a nearly 70 percent increase from 69 million shipments last year.

For next year, the Framingham, Massachusetts-based market researcher said it forecast worldwide shipments of 165.9 million units, up 16.2 percent from the previous estimate of 142.8 million units.

As for e-readers, IDC said it now predicts worldwide shipments will top out at 23.6 million units, down 14.8 percent from the 27.7 million units last year.

“Despite ongoing economic concerns in most regions of the world, consumers continue to buy tablets in record numbers and we expect particularly strong demand in the fourth quarter,” Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for mobile connected devices, wrote in an e-mailed statement.

IDC’s latest forecast came after Amazon.com Inc, Google Inc and Samsung Electronics Co recently launched their own tablet devices, and ahead of Apple Inc’s reported plan to launch the iPad Mini early next month, as companies vie for a share of the growing tablet pie as the Christmas shopping season approaches.

According to an estimate by US research firm IHS, tablet sales could exceed 20 million units during the Christmas season.

“Apple leads the market with its iPad, and we expect its dominance to continue in the second half of the year. Still, we believe there is room in the market for others to find success, and new Android and Windows-based products shipping in the coming months will give consumers plenty of buying options during the holiday season,” Mainelli wrote in the statement.

Since Apple launched the iPad in 2010, tablets have been eating into PC sales, cutting the profits of long-time PC heavyweights such as Hewlett-Packard Co and Dell Inc, and prompting Microsoft Corp to offer Windows operating systems for tablets and even launch its own Surface tablet to maintain profitability.

IDC said Windows tablets (which include Windows 7, Windows RT and Windows 8 tablets) are likely to account for 4 percent of the market this year, from about 1 percent last year, before expanding further to 11 percent by 2016.

IDC research analyst Jennifer Song said tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 and RT operating systems, including the company’s own Surface tablets, will add some momentum.

“However, we expect shipments to remain low in the fourth quarter as high prices and consumer confusion around these devices will limit their appeal. Also, in the second half of the year, Android should benefit from the success of the [Google] Nexus 7 and Amazon’s launch of new Kindle Fires,” Song wrote in the statement.