Research firms like IDC, Gartner, and others sometimes screw up their predictions big time. For instance, Gartner said in 2011 that Android will get 38% of the tablet market by, wait for it, 2015. And here we are, discussing IDC’s latest figures, which say that Android tablets already make up about 42% of the tablet market.

While it’s fun to predict market shares for years in advance, there’s really no telling what will happen six months from now, and four year predictions are pretty much useless in the tech world. But trends do matter and they are worth analyzing.

With this necessary caveat out of our way, here’s what IDC says it’s happening in the tablet market, this year and beyond.

To summarize:

  • More tablets than predicted will be sold this year, “thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others” and good performance from the iPad mini and iPad 4, which position Apple for another strong holiday season.
  • IDC increased their forecast for 2012, from 117.1 million units to 122.3 million units.
  • E-readers are dying – IDC says that it expects close to 20 million e-readers to be shipped this year, down from 27.7 million in 2011. This is no surprise; even with great products like the Kindle Paperwhite, users are increasingly preferring the versatility of a tablet.
  • Windows tablets – still a drop in a bucket. In spite of the onslaught of Windows based tablets, including Microsoft’s own flashy Surface, slates running Windows 7, 8, and RT will have a hard time gaining traction. Windows tablets made 2.9% of total tablet shipments in 2012, and IDC predicts a little more than 10% for 2016. Take this long term predictions with a grain of salt.
  • The iPad to go below 50% by 2016. Another prediction that I find hard to believe, considering how fast has Android grown in the past year.
  • Shipments include sales to distribution channels, like Walmart or Amazon. Apple’s figures are based on actual sales, so the actual number of Android and Windows tablets sold to customers might be smaller than indicated by the figures.

Here’s IDC tablet market share data:

idc tablet market share

What do you make of these statistics?

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.