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Android gains on Apple in surging tablet sector

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Fighting it out ... Apple's iPad, left, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 .

Fighting it out ... Apple's iPad, left, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 .

The global market for tablet computers is growing faster than earlier estimates suggested, with Android-powered devices gaining on the market-leading iPads, according to a new survey.

IDC said it boosted its forecast for global tablet sales for 2012 to 122.3 million, from 117.1 million, in large part due to demand for Android tablets and the new iPad mini.

IDC also raised its 2013 forecast number to 172.4 million, up from 165.9 million and said shipments by 2016 worldwide shipments should reach 282.7 million.

"Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower price points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," said Tom Mainelli, research director for tablets at IDC.

"Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others. And Apple's November iPad mini launch, along with its surprise refresh of the full-sized iPad, positions the company well for a strong holiday season."

IDC now expects Android's worldwide tablet share to increase to 42.7 per cent for 2012 from 39.8 per cent in 2011. Apple's share is expected to slip to 53.8 per cent from 56.3 per cent in 2011.

"The breadth and depth of Android has taken full effect on the tablet market as it has for the smartphone space," said Ryan Reith, an IDC analyst.

"Android tablet shipments will certainly act as the catalyst for growth in the low-cost segment in emerging markets given the platform's low barrier to entry on manufacturing. At the same time, top-tier companies like Samsung, Lenovo, and ASUS are all launching Android tablets with comparable to premium products, but offered at much lower price points."

IDC predicts Windows-based tablets, including new devices from Microsoft and others, will gain share from both iOS and Android, growing from 1 per cent of the market in 2011 to 2.9 per cent in 2012 and 10.2 per cent in 2016.

AFP