Although Apple continues to see its market share dwindle against the likes of Android in the smartphone and tablet space, iPad appears poised to retain a dominant share of global tablet shipments for at least the next four years.
"Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others," Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for tablets, said Wednesday. "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."
Analysts predict that the consumer demand for smaller tablets - a demand that Apple's iPad mini meets - will help keep Apple in a commanding position through 2016. "Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," Mainelli says, emphasizing the short term.
Looking further ahead, IDC also raised its 2013 forecast for worldwide tablet shipments to 172.4 million units and said that by 2016, shipments should reach 282.7 million units. And by that time, IDC predicts, both Apple and Android will see slippage in their hold on the overall tablet market, to 49.7 percent for Apple's iOS and 39.7 percent for Android.