The anticipation of growing enterprise demand for media tablets in the second half of 2012 has resulted in International Data Corporation (IDC) increasing its forecast for the worldwide market to 107.4 million units -- that's up from its previous forecast of 106.1 million units.
In the their latest market assessment, IDC also revised upward its 2013 media tablet forecast -- from 137.4 million units to 142.8 million units. Moreover, by 2016 worldwide shipments of media tablets are expected to reach 222.1 million units.
"Demand for media tablets remains robust, and we see an increasing interest in the category from the commercial side," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices at IDC.
IDC expects pending new products from major players, increasingly affordable mainstream media tablets, and Microsoft advertising Windows 8 to drive increased interest in the category through the end of the year.
In addition to increasing the unit totals for 2012, IDC also updated its forecast to shift a larger percentage of future units toward Apple iOS and away from Google Android.
IDC now expects iOS to grow its share of the market in 2012 to 62.5 percent, up from 58.2 percent in 2011. Meanwhile Android's share will slip from 38.7 percent in 2011 to 36.5 percent in 2012. IDC expects third-place Blackberry to slip from 1.7 to 1 percent.
"After a very strong launch of new products in March, Apple's iPad shows few signs of slowing down," Mainelli added. "The addition of the Retina Display and 4G capabilities to the third-generation products clearly enticed many current owners to upgrade."
And, Apple's decision to keep two iPad 2s in the market at lower prices -- moving the entry-level price down to $399 -- seems to be paying off as well. If Apple launches a sub-$300, 7-inch product into the market later this year as rumored, then IDC expects Apple's lead to be sustainable.
That being said, in this highly competitive marketplace, new product announcements from within the evolving Google Android ecosystem could easily swing the momentum back in the other direction.
IDC is not currently forecasting Microsoft Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets. However, beginning next quarter, IDC will institute several taxonomy changes that will bring all tablet slates, regardless of OS or processor type, into their market assessment.
Furthermore, the recent upside for media tablets seems to have had an adverse effect on eReaders. While IDC increased its forecast for tablets in 2012, they've lowered their forecast for eReaders in 2012.
After a disappointing first quarter, and strong indications that new low-priced tablets are significantly impacting demand, IDC now expects 2012 shipments of eReaders to be stable at around 28 million units, down slightly from the 28.2 million units that shipped in 2011.