SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Google Inc. is expected to strip more market share from Apple Inc. as tablets post stronger-than-expected sales this year thanks to a “surge of smaller, lower-priced devices,” a report said Tuesday.
Tablet sales are expected to total 191 million units, up from an earlier forecast of 172 million, according to IDC.
Smaller, cheaper devices are the main factor for the surge with “one in every two tablets shipped this quarter…below 8 inches in screen size,” IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement.
Reuters Google’s Nexus 7 tablets
“We expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond,” Ubrani added. “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.”
Google Inc.’s (GOOG) Android system is seen as the big gainer, with its share of the market expected to peak at 49% this year, up from an earlier forecast of 41.5%.
Google’s gains come at Apple’s (AAPL) expense. The company’s iOS platform is seen losing market share from 51% in 2012 to 46% this year. See related post: Apple’s low-end iPhone: Still too expensive?
Eventually, both Apple and Google are expected to give up share to the other giant in this space, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), which just launched its Windows 8 platform. See also: Samsung’s Galaxy S4 dials up Apple pressure.
But Microsoft has stumbled with its Windows offensive.
“Microsoft’s decision to push two different tablet operating systems, Windows 8 and Windows RT, has yielded poor results in the market so far,” IDC analyst Tom Mainelli said in prepared remarks.
“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.”
Still, Windows 8 is expected to grow its share from 1% last year to 3% this year and to a little more than 7% in 2017. By then, Android is still expected to remain dominant with 46% followed by Apple iOS with 44%.
Benjamin Pimentel is a MarketWatch reporter based in San Francisco. Follow him on Twitter @BenPimentel.
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