iPad to drive stronger tablet sales worldwide: study

Demand for tablet computers is growing faster than earlier forecasts, driven by strong demand for the iPad from Apple, according to a survey released Thursday.

The report from research firm IDC boosted the forecast for global tablet sales to 107.4 million, from a prior forecast of 106.1 million.

IDC also revised upward its 2013 forecast number to 142.8 million from 137.4 million, and said worldwide shipments should reach 222.1 million units by 2016.

"Demand for media tablets remains robust, and we see an increasing interest in the category from the commercial side," said Tom Mainelli, an IDC analyst.

"We expect pending new products from major players, increasingly affordable mainstream devices, and a huge marketing blitz from Microsoft around Windows 8 to drive increased consumer interest in the category through the end of the year."

IDC said it expects the iPad to increase its dominance, grabbing 62.5 percent of the market, up from 58.2 percent in 2011. It said tablets powered by Google's Android platform will slip from 38.7 percent in 2011 to 36.5 percent in 2012. IDC expects third-place BlackBerry to slip from 1.7 percent to 1.0 percent.

"After a very strong launch of new products in March, Apple's iPad shows few signs of slowing down," Mainelli said.

"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... seems to be paying off as well."

He said if Apple launches a seven-inch tablet costing less than $300, as widely rumored, "we expect the company's grip on this market to become even stronger."

IDC said it had no forecasts for tablets using Microsoft Windows but Mainelli said the new products are expected to add to the projected numbers.

"We don't expect Windows-based tablets to necessarily take share from Apple and Android, but will grow the overall tablet market," he said.

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