60+ Million Tablets in 2011

IDC analyst Jennifer Song:

Apple’s iOS share will continue to lead by more than 40 percentage points over Google’s Android for the remainder of the year, but we expect Apple’s share to fall closer to 50% by the end of the forecast period as manufacturers bring new tablets to market.

Second quarter worldwide media tablet shipments increased 88.9% Q/Q and 303.8% Y/Y to 13.6 million units. Based on this result IDC has raised its shipment forecast from 53.5 million to 62.5 million units for 2011. That’s some impressive growth in the second quarter, but a lot has happened since.

Crazy stuff during the third quarter:

HP abandoned its TouchPad. After another round of builds to make use of the already paid for component inventory the TouchPad will be no more. A small blip in shipments due to the TouchPad in the third quarter will mean very little for the overall tablet market going forward.

Except that to generate demand on par to the iPad the competition will need to price their tablets aggressively. TouchPads flew off the shelves at US$99. Even the more expensive $149 32GB version was impossible to find anywhere. This Apotheker-led fiasco confirms that at the same price it is almost impossible to compete against the iPad.

RIM recently announced that it had shipped just 200,000 BlackBerry PlayBooks during the second quarter. Despite aggressive marketing shipment performance was dismal. I don’t see those numbers improving in the third quarter.

Google purchased Motorola Mobility (MMI). Most argue Google purchased MMI for its massive collection of intellectual property to defend Android from attacks by Microsoft and Apple. This certainly has some teeth as Google has by proxy sued Apple by transferring some patents from MMI to HTC. Those patents along with others Google purchased were used by HTC to sue Apple. Google, it turns out, also purchased more than 1000 patents from IBM, probably for similar reasons. But no one knows for sure what Google will do with MMI’s hardware capabilities, and that will probably have a dampening impact on the enthusiasm of brands making Android tablets.

During the Build conference there was a massive Windows 8 blitz. In the future Android tablets will be powered by x86 Intel CPUs. Windows 8 tablets will run on x86 and ARM CPUs.

Put this all together and the possibility is there: momentum for Android tablets might slow. Brands, especially Android tablet brands, will likely have begun drawing out their strategies for Windows 8 tablets. I don’t think tablet brands will completely abandon Android and embrace Windows 8. For many like Samsung, Windows 8 will serve as a hedge against Google, in the event that it starts showing signs of preferential treatment to MMI.

The 60 million plus tablet shipments forecasted by IDC will certainly be dominated by the iPad, but I’d bet the iPad will be significantly more than 50%.