Pricing will be the key to commercial success or failure for Microsoft’s new Windows 8 and Windows RT media tablets, which are expected to be out in the marketplace in October, according to ABI Research. Given their late 2012 commercial launch, ABI forecasts that the new Windows tablets will account for 1.5% of tablet shipments this year, but 10 times that in 2013 “if priced aggressively towards current Android tablets.”

On the other hand, ABI foresees new Windows tablet shipments only doubling or tripling in 2013 if they’re priced more like Apple’s iPad. In any event, growing tablet adoption among businesses is expected to drive growth in tablet shipments, and that’s “expected to be a strong area for Windows 8,” according to ABI.

Windows 8 is grabbing most of the attention, but Windows RT is Microsoft’s magic bullet, ABI analysts say, especially when it comes to competing with the tablet market’s two dominant mobile operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. “While the main marketing focus has been on Windows 8, Microsoft’s magic bullet lies in Windows RT,” says mobile devices senior practice director Jeff Orr.

“Windows RT accelerates an existing ecosystem of vendors experienced with ARM-based development and leveraging the architecture strengths. Windows RT represents Microsoft’s first OS volley addressing future generations of computing devices while leaving much of the legacy Windows baggage behind.”

It’s in the enterprise sector where Windows 8 tablets may find strong demand, enterprise mobility practice director Dan Shey added. “Neither of the leading tablet OS platforms has squarely addressed the needs of IT organizations and business users.” Flawless execution by Microsoft on its Windows 8 Pro enterprise strategy for tablets could catapult it into a mobile computing leadership position.”

Part of its Media Tablets Research Service, ABI’s new report, entitled, “The Impact of Windows 8 on Media Tablets,” is available via the market research firm’s website.

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