IDC Raises Tablet Shipment Forecast for the Year

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IDC raised its tablet shipment forecast for the year due to growing consumer interest in tablets and the introduction of new devices, the research firm said on Friday.

IDC increased its worldwide tablet shipment outlook to 53.5 million units, up from the previous forecast from 50.4 million units. IDC raised its forecast despite a drop in shipments during the first quarter this year compared to the fourth quarter last year.

Tablet shipment during the first quarter this year totaled 7.2 million units, a 28 percent drop compared to the fourth quarter last year. Research firms have been comparing tablet shipments on a sequential basis as Apple's original iPad started shipping in April last year.

Consumer tablet demand fell during the first quarter due to economic concerns, said Bob O'Donnell, IDC's vice president for clients and displays, in a statement. Shipments also fell sequentially as there were fewer buyers during the quarter compared to the fourth quarter post-holiday shopping season.

The introduction of new devices and growing awareness about them should boost tablet shipments for the rest of the year, IDC said.

Hewlett-Packard last week introduced its first consumer tablet, the TouchPad, which has attracted interest from early enthusiasts. Device makers such as Toshiba, Asus, Acer, Sony and Dell have already shipped or are scheduled to launch tablets based on Google's Android OS later this year.

Apple's iPad continued its market domination, but tablets based on Google's Android OS are taking away market share, IDC said. Android-based devices held 34 percent market share during the first quarter, an increase of 8.2 points over the fourth quarter last year. IDC did not respond to request for iPad's market share.

Apple's unit shipments during the first quarter were below expectations, partly due to the anticipation for iPad 2 and supply issues related to screens, IDC said. The iPad 2 became available in March to big lines in the U.S., but initial stock soon dried up and supply issues prevented Apple from keeping up with demand.

Samsung and Motorola saw limited success with their Android tablets, but customers were unwilling to buy tablets tied to 3G or 4G data plans, which require two-year contracts in the U.S., IDC said.

Last month, research firm DisplaySearch said that there was growing interest in inexpensive Android tablets from little-known vendors as customers try to avoid paying a premium on tablets such as the iPad. The interest in lower quality tablets is high among students, and in developing countries such as China.

IDC also said that worldwide e-reader shipments went up by 105 percent compared to the first quarter last year, as Barnes and Noble's Nook overtook Amazon's Kindle into first place for the first time. The lack of a color e-reader offering hurt Amazon, while B&N received a boost with Nook Color, which is sold as an e-reader but is also considered to be an Android tablet.

IDC projected worldwide e-reader shipments to total 16.2 million units this year, growing by 24 percent compared to last year.

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