With higher forecast numbers than expected, tablets will prove to be an even more essential connected device choice. Defining aspects of tablets stand to change as they become more popular, as will their accessibility to hopeful owners.

Healthy tablet sales further mature a new mobile device category

Despite an economy still in recovery, tablet sales are expected to increase even more than previously estimated. Consumers are still purchasing tablets in this newer device category, particularly Apple’s iPad. In the most recent forecast from the International Data Corporation, the worldwide tablet market may swell to 117.1 million units, a number that the IDC increased from 107.4. For 2013, the IDC forecast increased from 142.8 million units to 165.9 million, and for 2016 estimates reach 261.4 million. But the tablet market has other changes in its future, due to its nascent status.

The market won't diversify

In the next few years, the market is expected to shift but not diversify, with Windows tablets taking some market share, Android losing some, and other operating systems all but disappearing. In 2011, 57.2 percent of the 70.9 million tablets sold worldwide were iPads, a number that remains fairly constant in the forecasts - 60 percent in 2012, and 58 percent in 2016. Android devices made up 38.9 percent of total tablets in 2011, and is expected to decline to 30.5 percent in 2016. Windows tablets currently make up about 1 percent of 2011 market share, and could grow to 11 percent by 2016.

More tablets, less eReaders

Despite the optimistic adjustments made for tablets, the IDC lowered them for eReaders. By IDC parameters, the device category had a disappointing first half of the year, and has been impacted by the availability of tablets that retail for under $200. Because of these factors, eReader sales may wilt from the 2011 level of 27.7 million units to 23.6 million. These changes indicate a higher demand for multipurpose devices, and a market for lower-cost tablets at the expense of this less versatile category.


By Ivory King