IDC Predicting Android Tablets to Pass iPad, Again

| Analysis

The Cloudy Apple Crystal BallThe Cloudy Apple Crystal Ball

IDC is once again predicting that Android tablet shipments will surpass iPad sales, but the company has upped the ante by predicting it will happen in 2013. The firm is estimating that Android tablets will account for 48.8 percent of the market in 2013, while Apple's iPad share slips to 46 percent.

The reason for this is IDC's usual mantra that the sea of cheap tablets from a myriad of vendors will rise up to overwhelm Apple's single-sourced iPad.

"One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond" Jitesh Ubrani, Research Analyst for IDC's Tablet Tracker, said in a statement. "Vendors are moving quickly to compete in this space as consumers realize that these small devices are often more ideal than larger tablets for their daily consumption habits."

Nice Call

Pardon me while I roll my eyes. IDC has been beating this drum for a while. The company had previously predicted that Android tablets would outpace iPad by 2015. Other awesome predictions from IDC include a 2011 prediction that Windows Phone would surpass iPhone by 2015 (BlackBerry was predicted to have 13.7 percent share for 2015 in that same report).

Gartner predicted much the same thing in April of 2011. iSuppli jumped on board the Windows Phone train in January of 2012 based on Nokia's Lumia 900 device. Windows Phone currently languishes in obscurity in a market dominated by Android and Apple's iOS, and the Lumia 900 was a non-starter. In the meanwhile, BlackBerry has shrunk to a single-digit has-been.

So, you know, nice call IDC/Gartner/iSuppli.


For the tablet market, IDC is being much less bullish on Microsoft's prospects. The firm is projecting 4.7 percent share for Windows 8 RT and Windows 8. By 2015, IDC thinks that will somehow jump to 10.1 percent, with most of the growth in the non-RT version of Windows.

Really, though, that's still pretty bullish considering the reality that Surface has been a flop. IDC even acknowledged that in its report, saying:

Microsoft's decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far. Consumers aren't buying Windows RT's value proposition, and long term we think Microsoft and its partners would be better served by focusing their attention on improving Windows 8. Such a focus could drive better share growth in the tablet category down the road.

Uh-huh, and watch out for Nokia zooming up the charts with a badass Windows Phone device, too.

Are You Experienced?

What the report doesn't address is the reality that no one does anything with Android tablets. Yes, in a world where everything is equal, it makes sense that Android would do to iPad what it did to iPhone. That's what many researchers can't seem to grasp, however. In the tablet world, everything is not equal.

I've argued for years that tablet demand is sparked by the experience, and I've further argued that the tablet market would more closely resemble the MP3 player market more than the iPhone market. To this day, Apple still controls some 70 percent of the MP3 player market.

Assuming IDC's estimates of 46 percent share hit the mark, that's still closer to the iPod than iPhone's less-than-20 percent share, but I'll be surprised if Android tablets do pass up iPad.

Why? Because no one does anything with their Android tablets, while people use the heck out of their iPads. It's still about the experience, and Amazon, Google, and even Samsung can sell their devices at a loss all day long and it still won't offer the kind of compelling experience that has made iPad and iPad mini such a hit.

IDC hasn't addressed this. Gartner hasn't addressed this. iSuppli hasn't addressed this. They all seem too busy applying Microsoft's disrupted PC paradigm to the tablet market to look at this issue.

Worse, they're all counting Amazon's Kindle Fire family as sales of Android devices. Personally, I think Kindle Fire should be broken out as the third major tablet platform, but that's a subject for another time. It's not going to happen, in part because it reinforces the mindset of the researchers in question.

This is all more of the same old thing. The industry doesn't grok Apple, its ecosystem, its value proposition, and it never has.



I dunno Bry, (still waiting on my T-Shirt lol). My friend writes for Air & Space and he swears by his $200 Nexus tab. He navigates out of Wi-Fi range with GPS,  he hikes Topanga every week and displays his hike on an HD display that not only shows the breadcrumb trail over Google Map sat view, but has a “plan” view with x= altitude and y= time.  It’s pretty cool. 7”, NOT 8” (a deal breaker for average hand) 200 bucks. It’s that stodgy ecosystem of Apple’s that may be the boat anchor; kids with dough are so ADD that they may decide that Apple just ain’t cool anymore.
  Remember, in 1966 the Beatles - just blossoming in the studio with Rubber Soul and Revolver were changing the world - yet could only HALF fill the stadiums in the U.S. that were packed in ‘64 and ‘65.  Yeah, I kind of compared Apple to Apple (AAPL) - ouch, I have to stop but you get the core (damn) of what I’m saying.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Interestingly, there was a recent usability study of e-readers with elderly people. It turns out that strong backlighting and crappy resolution is cognitively easier for them than crisp text with no backlighting.

In practical terms, this means that a 1024x600 pixel 7” Android tablet in the $100 - $150 range is a great Kindle reader, even if used for no other purpose. This is where I’d look for surprising growth in the tablet market. The crappy tablets don’t actually suck anymore.

Bryan Chaffin

Hey CudaBoy, as soon as we do a run there will be a shirt with your name on it, as promised. I don’t have a date yet, but shirts are in the works. smile

Interesting points, Brad and CudaBoy.


The full analysis includes this gem that I haven’t seen on any (save one) site about this article.

“IDC’s figures include shipments sold both to distribution channels and to end users, meaning that there may be large numbers of unsold devices in stock. “We believe in the second half of 2012 a large number of white-label tablets were sold to retail channels that remain in inventory,” Reith said. “These were cheap devices.”

Apple “does not see this issue due to high demand,” he added.”

In other words, any number of manufacturers can ship cheap (sub $100 in some instances) tablets running android, those tablets can sit, collecting dust, while “gaining marketshare” at Apple’s expense, while Apple has a couple days worth of inventory on hand, selling nearly as fast as they make them, but this is seen as winning by analysts?

Honestly, technology analysts baffle me.  If we go by their logic, all, say, Burger King needs to do to be #1 is MAKE more hamburgers than McDonalds, doesn’t matter if they sell them or not, and claim to be “Number 1 in Volume!”

Same for Pepsi against Coke.

Does this methodology hold up for anything else? Any other product?

It also is a reason that there are reports that “people don’t surf” of “people don’t {insert activity here}” on their android devices… many of the devices are sitting in a locked drawer or case at a retailer waiting for an end user!


2 things: Brad - elderly? like what? 40? I’m gonna be 60 this year and never needed readers til BAM, about 6 years ago. It happens fast -hardening and hemispheres, u know the drill - but I’ve always found that transmitted light is ALWAYS easier and sharper than reflective or printed stuff to view - a slide show from ol’ Pops when I was a kid 6 was/is still sharper and more vivid than any printed image…granted all e-readers are “transmissive” but the deal with electronic paper is cool because no matter what it’s superior to reflective 7” books, and gaudy 1024 x anything is fine for a tiny screen compared to e paper, bottom line young people prefer the bright screen as well - you told half the story.
But you are right on with your ‘crap doesn’t suck as much’ theory.
  2nd: Wuddup Bry with the “hollow” star thingy under my name…what happened to the gack?? I’m an old crabby member of MacOb since 2001, does that hollow star reflect silver hair? What happened to the “seniority” page with the join date ranks???? Is this web-ism cuz I don’t make a million annoying comments?? Just asking.  (XL)


“Honestly, technology analysts baffle me.  If we go by their logic, all, say, Burger King needs to do to be #1 is MAKE more hamburgers than McDonalds, doesn’t matter if they sell them or not, and claim to be “Number 1 in Volume!”

Same for Pepsi against Coke.

Does this methodology hold up for anything else? Any other product? “

Yep, the Auto industry. Factory shipments are big in Auto biz, you don’t hear about the returns and crushed inventory.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@CudeBoy: I think they used 65 as “elderly”. The main point was that even with older people with perfect 20/20 vision (focussing), the ability to perceive light contrast degrades significantly with age. So a backlit tablet with crummy resolution is easier for them to read than beautiful, print quality text with reflective display or weak backlighting (e.g. Kindle Paperwhite).

I have a Nexus 7. I have it on one of those $5 mini picture easels you can get at Michael’s. Usually, it’s displaying a clock (Alltock Procrastinator’s Clock—I wrote it) with a live wallpaper in the background. My mood has been beach lately, so I have an animated beach, ocean, and fire pit going. I have a little bluetooth speaker to which I stream iHeartRadio, Tunein Radio, and podcasts. I like reading Google Currents on it an night when winding down, and enjoy various golf games on it. I also use it as an Air Display with my MBP during the day when I don’t want to hook up to a larger 1080p display on my desk.

My next plan is to use a Nexus 7 as the primary interface for a car audio system. The problem there is 95% mounting. There are lots of Android apps with very usable car modes that have large tap areas and low distraction. So much more experimentation going on with this in Android space than in iOS space.


Sounds great. That is precisely how tablets should be used….. they are very utilitarian. Seems a lot of people less adept at using tech never really discover all the things to do with tablets. Because of this, the devices don’t embed themselves in many peoples lives the way yours has for you.

Tons of cheap tablets will change how we do things. I want one to use as a replacement for my now smashed Marantz high end remote. Much cheaper than using the dedicated LCD remotes that used to cost about $800 or more. Touchscreens are so awesome.


Bosco, that is plain-ass hip. Don’t you feel a little “Pirate” ish with these brat Android devices? There’s a feeling about ‘get it done’, a bunch of independent people fighting for an open platform not burdened by “the man”. You clones wanna sue Samdroid? Tell the Judge they stole your Pirate!!!!!


Great tips.  When my 25 year-old bedside clock-radio finally bites the dust I’ll replace it with a Nexus 7.  Not interested in the car audio bit though. I have a 6 year-old 80GB iPod Classic permanently attached to the car audio system via USB. I can navigate through the iPod’s content using the in-car touch screen with no problem.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Not really “pirate”. I’ve been an Android fan since I first saw it, and all-in on it for about 3 years now. Price and variety are important now. Am I going to give a 7 year old a $350 tablet? Hell no. Do I need a $350 tablet as a clock radio or a TV remote? Hell no. Since Gingerbread, these Android devices have been good enough. With Jelly Bean, they are every bit as crisp and polished as the iPad. I can see most families having 5-10 tablets strewn around for various uses. I can’t see them all having a floor price of $350.


Damn Brad, that’s cool. I thought you used to be a clone. I have friends that have kids that lose Pads and Pods and it makes me ill on several levels - Mom, Where’s my iPad and my ($400) ski goggles? R U kidding me?  Being a relic, the equivalent would be like me hitting my Mom up for where I left my ‘74 ‘Cuda? Or my Phase Linear power amp and Dual turntable. 


Eventually tablets will be everywhere. I think you are right. They will not be so much a luxury item as they will be like light switches… one or 2 in every room for different purposes and in different sizes.

I still use my PJBox Mp3 player for music in the car. Works exceedingly well.
When I hook it up to my lexicon/dyne audio system it sound much much better than any iPod ever made.


I used to feel as you do.
All of my kids 8 year old friends have their parents old iPhones etc.

But I just got a broken one and fixed it and i figure my daughter can use it for a music player, audiobook player and I can put only educational apps on it. Currently, it is only worth about $100 bucks on eBay. I got it for free with a $30 buck repair.

I don’t know if I am doing the right thing or not. I have conflicts. It is the world our kids are growing up in. Not like the one I grew up in. I hope to have lots of teachable moments. And she won’t be using it except on weekends. We don’t allow media during the week.

Lee Dronick

“Great tips.  When my 25 year-old bedside clock-radio finally bites the dust I’ll replace it with a Nexus 7.”

I use my old iPhone as a bedroom alarm clock instead of docking it in an alarm clock. Of couse it is also an AAC player, police scanner, and other iPhone/iPad uses other than being a phone.


I totally agree with you Bryan. They keep spilling out numbers but in the end there’s no truth to any of it as sales of Nokia Windows phones, blackberries, Microsoft Surface tablets really show. Yet they keep hammering in that they will suddenly magically jump up somehow. But I think they said that about the Zune too.

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