The global market for tablet computers is growing faster than expected, with Apple Inc.’s iPad widening its lead as consumers’ top choice, according to market researcher International Data Corp.
Worldwide shipments of tablets this year will be 107.4 million units, up from an earlier projection of 106.1 million, Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC said today in a statement. Worldwide shipments should reach 142.8 million next year and 222.1 million by 2016, the group said.
Even as companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. release new tablets running Google Inc.’s Android operating system, Apple’s iPad continues to dominate the market. IDC predicts the iPad will account for 62.5 percent of global shipments this year, up from 58.2 percent last year. Apple’s share could rise even further if it introduces a smaller, less expensive tablet.
“Apple’s iPad shows few signs of slowing down,” Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director of mobile connected devices, said in the statement. “If Apple launches a sub-$300, 7-inch product into the market later this year as rumored, we expect the company’s grip on this market to become even stronger.”
Shipments of tablets using Android will slip to 36.5 percent, from 38.7 percent last year, according to IDC.
The report highlights how consumers are increasingly turning to tablets for basic computing needs such as browsing the Internet, checking e-mail and watching video, a trend that has affected the sales of traditional PC makers such as Hewlett-Packard Co. and Dell Inc. Last week, Boston-based research firm Yankee Group predicted tablet sales in the U.S. will eclipse those of personal computers by 2015.
Later this year, Microsoft Corp. is releasing a new version of its Windows operating system that will work on tablet computers. IDC said the “huge marketing blitz” for tablets running that software will boost overall shipments, though it didn’t include potential sales of Windows-based devices in the forecast released today.