The surge in low priced tablets will cause Android to overtake Apple in the category for the first time this year.
New research from IDC said half of the tablets shifted during the first quarter of 2013 were less than eight inches in size, such as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire. The agency revised its 2013 forecast for tablet shipments upwards from 172.4 million to 190.9 million units. It said by 2017, more than 350 million tablets will have been shifted.
The growth will largely come from Android, despite market leader Apple responding to market demand by releasing the iPad mini. Devices running the Google operating system are set to come at the expense of Apple. Android's market share will account for 48.8% of the market by the end of this year, compared to Apple's 46% share. In the longer term, Microsoft's Windows tablets will bite into the top two players' share. While it only had 1% of the market last year, this is expected to grow to 7.4% by 2017.
Jitesh Ubrani, research analyst for IDC's Tablet Tracker, said: 'One in every two tablets shipped this quarter was below 8 inches in screen size. And in terms of shipments, we expect smaller tablets to continue growing in 2013 and beyond. 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.'
Author: Graeme Neill