Can Windows tablet challenge Android and iOS?

by Sohini Bagchi    Dec 04, 2013


There is no doubt that tablets will rule the future of computing. Until now Apple’s iPad has been ruling the tablet space when it comes to market share and Google’s Android is speeding up to grab its share of the pie. The two will continue their dominance in the tablet market, which is all set to cannibalize the desktop PCs, believe researchers, albeit with one small development. The Windows tablet which has a marginal market share now will come into the limelight over the next few years. And it is then that the market competition of tablets will intensify even further.

IDC’s latest tablet forecast shows a slower growth in 2013 and in the near future and in that market, Windows tablets will play a prominent role and it is forecast to occupy 10.2% of the market by 2017 as against the current market share of 3%. However, this does not mean that Windows will soon challenge the dominance of Android and iOS, said the research firm.

Even though there will be a slight dip in the tablet market as far as Android and iOS tablets are concerned, they will continue to rule. As the research firm notes in 2017, Android will have a tablet market share of 58.8%, compared to the projected market share of 60.8% this year. Apple’s iOS will have a tablet market share of 30.6% in 2017, compared to 35% this year.

Windows tablet catching up

According to independent IT analyst Ravi S, Microsoft designed Windows 8 to run on tablets in an attempt to bring the OS into the rapidly growing tablet segment. It’s just a matter of time for them and strategy for them to understand the market and take leadership position. He recalls the time when Apple first released the iPad, many people said there was no market for tablets. For most the ipad remained a device only for entertainment rather than an essential tool like a smartphone or a PC. Windows tablet may see a similar maturity phase in the coming months.

Some believe with greater market competition and aggressive pricing, many people may start looking at Microsoft Windows tablet. However, Tom Mainelli, research director warns that if the company does not work on fixing the underlying Windows OS, device design and application problems, it will hamper the growth of these devices.

PC or a tablet or both?

Moreover Mainelli points out that people do not wish to buy want the complexity of a PC in tablets, and will not prefer a tablet with the power of a PC. “Microsoft confused customers by creating one OS designed for both desktops and tablets, and this was a key reason why acceptance of Windows 8 was not as strong as the company hoped,” he says.

Some others however prefer the other way, argues Ravi. He believes that Android tablets and the iPad are solid tablets, but Windows 8 has distinct advantages over both of the other platforms. Windows 8 is a full PC OS and that brings some important capabilities to the tablet.

In addition, the application ecosystem for Windows 8 is still weak, he said stating that the company is pushing unified application development for tablets and laptops, but that approach is complicated by the different screen sizes on various devices.

Optimistic growth

Despite some criticism, experts are optimistic about the growth of Windows tablet. They believe the company needs just one hot tablet to move several notches above its current stature even though it may not lead the entire tablet scenario. There are however several other vendors offering Windows tablets such as Dell, HP, Toshiba and Acer to name a few. So there has to be a key differentiating factor, believes Mainelli.

Microsoft is currently looking at hybrid devices that have tablet and laptop functionality as well as bringing some design innovation and features to be a differentiator in the fast growing market. The success is yet to be seen.

Experts believe with a suitable marketing strategy, Windows tablets shipments can rise dramatically over the next few years and the tech giant will not give up on this area of mobility, they believe.