Windows 8 tablets will lag far behind iOS and Android for years, says IDC

There's good news and bad news for Microsoft in a recent IDC report about tablets. The good news is that Windows tablet sales will surge in the next four years. The bad news is that even then, they'll be only 10% of the market.

In the report, IDC increases the number of tablets it expects to be sold in 2012, 122.3 million of them, compared to a 117.1 million estimate previously. By 2016, it expects a whopping 282.7 million tablets to be sold.

Apple tablets will rule the roost for years to come, according to IDC. In 2012, it will have 53.8% of the market, and by 2016 it will have 49.7% of the market. Android, meanwhile, will have 42.7% market share this year, and 39.7% in 2016.

Windows tablets will grow from a 2.9% market share in 2016 to a 10.3% market share in 2016. In terms of actual shipments, Windows tablets will see a 69.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), while Apple will see a 20.9% CAGR and Android a 21% CAGR.

While that 69.2% CAGR looks good, keep in mind that Microsoft is starting out at the bottom of the market, so it's easy to rack up high numbers. Far more impressive is the Apple 20.9% and the Android 21%, because they're already shipping plenty of devices.

Microsoft can't be pleased with these numbers. A mere 10.3% market share by 2016 is very bad news. If true, would show that the Windows 8 experiment of designing a tablet operating system for PCs as a way to get people used to the tablet interface so they buy tablets, has failed.

There's also some more evidence that Microsoft's Surface RT tablet sales have been sluggish. The Boston-based brokerage firm Detwiler Fenton says that Microsoft is expected to sell only 500,000 to 600,000 of them in the December quarter, compared to Microsoft's expectations of one million to two million. So reports AllThingsD. AlThingsD says that one reason is poor distribution. Detwiler Fenton said, according to AllThingsD:

"Lack of distribution is killing the product. Mixed reviews and a [$499] starting price tag certainly don't help, but lack of retail exposure at Best Buy and others is severely depressing sales."

None of this is good news for Microsoft in a world in which tablets and mobile are where the growth is, not personal computers. So far, at least, it looks like Windows 8 might not do anything to help Microsoft in mobile.

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