iPad Slips, Microsoft Gains as Tablet Market Growth Slows: IDC

While off its lofty highs, the tablet market is expected to continue to make gains thanks to business demand, albeit slower.

Tablet mania is slowing down but enterprise customers are expected to help keep the market afloat.

In the wake of the first-ever year-over-year decline in tablet shipments last quarter, Framingham, Mass.-based IT research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) has released a more conservative estimate of how the market will fare over the next few years. In short, boom times are over for the once-hot device category, particularly for Apple's iPad.

Tablet shipments in 2015 are expected to rise a modest 2.1 percent compared to last year, reaching a total 234.5 million units. Last year, vendors shipped 229.7 million tablets, a 4.4 percent gain over 2013.

The iPad is expected to bear the brunt of the tablet slowdown. "Once-upon-a-time-leader iOS is likely the weakest link as IDC expects its volume share of the market to decline in 2015, reaching levels below that of the past three years," said the firm in a statement.

Apple will dip from a 25.6 percent share of the market this year to 23 percent by 2019. Google's Android mobile OS, meanwhile, will account for nearly two-thirds of tablet market through 2019, according to IDC, although its grip will slip as a rival from Redmond, Wash. gains ground.

"Microsoft is doing a lot of good things right now and we believe the launch of Windows 10 later this year will not only have a significant impact on Microsoft's share of the market, but on the industry as a whole," stated IDC research director Jean Philippe Bouchard in a statement. The software giant's progress in the mobile arena just happens to align with the priorities of business users and corporate IT departments.

"There is an appetite for a platform that can provide a productivity experience that remains consistent across multiple form factors and device types, and we believe Microsoft is well positioned to capture some of that demand," added Bouchard. Microsoft is expected to grow its meager 5.1 percent share of the market to 14.1 percent by 2019.

Device makers will ship 269.4 million tablets by 2019 compared to 234.5 million units this year, predicts IDC. "Although the outlook has been tempered, IDC still expects low but positive growth for the market in the years to come as demand in the commercial sector increases, and as Microsoft slowly gains a foothold," stated the analyst group.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: Microsoft, iPad, tablet, IDC

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