This is why Apple, Google, and Microsoft are fighting (and litigating) so fiercely on this front – even though the iPad has largely dominated tablet sales to date, the vast majority of the market is currently up for grabs, but within half a decade market saturation could already be setting in, at least for tablets sales in developing countries. And it’s far harder to disrupt a saturated market than it is to take market share before the market matures.
NPD thinks that developing nations will be underrepresented for the next five years, which probably means that industry work to produce lower-cost hardware for those markets may be a few years away. Or perhaps if one of the main tablet platforms falls behind they will double down by trying to accelerate adoption in developing nations.
You can see how much is at stake – Android devices alone are expected to outnumber all Windows PCs by 2016, and if Apple continues to own the tablet field (or if Android can repeat the success it’s had with smartphones) then Microsoft won’t even control the majority of the computer market. That’s why Microsoft has been willing to make Windows 8/RT such a radical change from Windows 7, and why they are willing to risk upsetting OEMs by making their own tablet hardware – we are truly entering the post-PC era, and whoever controls the mobile phone and tablet markets in the next few years will get to reprise the role that Microsoft played during the 1990s and early 2000s.
1. Tablets outpace notebooks
2. Developing nations will lag behind
source: NPD via TechCrunch