The convenience and mobility benefits afforded by media tablets are very apparent, given the results from record unit shipments and revenues that were reported by vendors in 2012.
In 2013, approximately 150 million tablets (up by 38 percent year-over-year) are forecast to ship globally worth an estimated $64 billion (up by 28 percent from 2012) in potential end-user revenues, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.
So far, Apple has reigned since the introduction of its iPad in 2010, though Samsung and others continue to erode its early success.
About 60 percent of the 2012 tablet shipments used Apple’s iOS operating system software, while 37 percent were based on Google’s Android OS (or development forks of Android, such as found on Amazon’s Kindle Fire).
The remaining 3 percent OS share consisted of Windows (Windows 7, 8, or RT), BlackBerry Tablet OS, and unidentified OS implementations.
"The tide is definitely turning toward Android-based tablets, though Apple will not slouch as it feels the competition approaching," said Jeff Orr, senior practice director at ABI Research.
The iPad mini was a timely introduction in 2012, though ABI Research remains cautious about the bottom line impact this is having for Apple.
The first quarter of 2013 should be the first time where production was able to meet market demand and a better sense of how much 9.7” iPad volume has switched to the smaller, lower-cost mini will be understood.
The next opportunity is for a vendor challenger to break away from the pack and move closer to Apple. Most would consider Samsung the likely pursuer, though the company was mired in legal proceedings during much of 2012.
The success Samsung has attained during the past year with smartphones and the Galaxy Note II is expected to migrate across to their tablet products in 2013. ABI believes that a well-executed Samsung tablet strategy could easily double the company’s market share this year.
Unfortunately, there are few fast-followers capable of emulating the technology that Samsung has developed, suggesting that more innovation is necessary for the other tablet manufacturers to gain market share.