December 05, 2012, 9:09 PM — The worldwide tablet market is exploding with demand as people jettison laptops for smaller, touch-based devices. But even as tablet become must-have personal computing devices, Windows, and particularly Windows 8 tablets, won't be a major factor until at least 2016, according to an online report. Slates running Microsoft's operating system are expected to account for just 2.9% of the worldwide tablet market by the end of 2012, rising to 10.3% in 2016, according to market research firm IDC.
IDC recently increased its overall tablet market forecast, predicting worldwide shipments to hit 122.3 million units, up from the previous forecast of 117.1 million devices shipped. By 2016, the research firm expects tablet shipments to reach 282.7 million units, up from the previous forecast of 261.4 million.
Most of the tablet activity over the next three years will involve the ongoing struggle between Apple and manufacturers of Android devices. In the latest salvo of the Apple-Google death match, Apple in October released the iPad mini to compete with smaller, popular tablets such as Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Android-based Kindle Fire lineup. There are also rumors that Google is prepping an Asus-built $99 Android Nexustablet.
By the end of 2012, IDC expects Apple's iPad line to account for 53.8% of worldwide tablets shipped, followed by Android tablets at 42.7%. By 2016, IDC believes Apple will still be on top with about 49.7 of tablets shipped, and Android will follow with 39.7%. Both tablet platforms are expected to grow on average by about 21% per year, according to IDC, which, along with PCWorld, is owned by International Data Group.