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IDC: Windows Tablets Set To Gain in Shifting Market

The so-called "detachable tablet" segment that Microsoft pioneered in 2012 with the introduction of the Surface is expected to grow by 75 percent in 2016, outpacing an overall shrinking tablet market.

According to forecast data released by research firm IDC on Tuesday, total shipments of tablets -- which for IDC encompasses both slates and 2-in-1 devices like the Surface -- are expected to reach 211.3 million this year, an 8.1 percent drop from 2014.

However, IDC projects that a growing portion of those shipments will be made up of detachable tablets like the Surface and the recently released Apple iPad Pro. Shipments of detachables are expected to nearly double in 2016, according to IDC.

"We're witnessing a real market transition as end users shift their demand towards detachables and more broadly towards a productivity-based value proposition," said IDC Research Director Jean Philippe Bouchard in a statement.

Bouchard attributed the demand shift to the explosion of OEMs offering detachable devices, which has resulted in more varied price points. Besides the fourth-generation Surface Pro tablet launched by Microsoft this past fall, the detachables segment has been bombarded in recent months by offerings from Apple, Lenovo, HP, Google and others (see "Microsoft Surface Competitors Crowd the Market").

"The proliferation of detachable offerings from hardware vendors continues to help drive this switch," Bouchard said. "We're starting to see the impact of competition within this space as the major platform vendors -- Apple, Google and Microsoft -- now have physical product offerings."

Of the Big Three mobile platforms -- Android, iOS and Windows -- it's Windows that stands to benefit the most from the shifting demand. IDC projects Windows tablet share will more than double over the next four years, from 8.5 percent in 2015 to 17.8 percent in 2019.

Android, while remaining in first place, will see its share decline slightly in that same period, from 67 percent to 56.5 percent.

iOS will mostly see incremental changes to remain in second place. IDC's projection underscores the trend of recent quarters of stagnant iPad sales for Apple.

"We believe the [iPad Pro] to be the only reason for Apple to gain tablet market share in the coming years as they target select enterprise and prosumer audiences," said IDC Senior Research Analyst Jitseh Ubrani in a statement. "At the same time we expect Windows-based devices -- slates and detachables combined -- to more than double its market share by 2019, driven by a combination of traditional PC OEMs as well as more household smartphone vendors."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.