Although Apple’s market share in the mounting worldwide tablet market is projected to drop a little, the company’s flagship iPad tablet will still continue to dominate the market through 2016 despite the increasing competition from Android and the newly entered Windows-based tablets, according to a recent IDC report.

Due to the strong competitive landscape, IDC has increased its 2012 forecast for the worldwide tablet market to 122.3 million, up from its previous forecast of 117.1 million units, with 53.8 percent of those being Apple iPad models. However, if the forecast turns true, the shipment will be 2.5 percent lower than 56.3 percent of the same Apple accounted for in 2011.

When it comes to Android tablets, IDC expects that the worldwide market share will increase from 39.8 percent in 2011 to 42.7 percent in 2012.

In spite of the recent launches of the Windows 8 operating system and Microsoft Surface, Windows-based tablets, including Windows 8 and Windows RT, are forecast to grab only 2.9 percent of the total tablet shipments in 2012, a slight increase from 1 percent in 2011.

However, by 2016, there will be a significant change in the scenario with the Windows tablets accounting for 10.3 percent of the total worldwide tablet shipments.

The report has estimated that the projected gains of Windows tablets will come at a cost of both the leading platforms, iOS and Android, as they will see their market shares drop through 2016.

As per the projected data, Apple iPad will account for 49. 7 percent of the total tablet shipments in 2016. On the other hand, Android tablets will control 39.7 percent of the total tablet shipments.

IDC expects that the number of tablet shipments in 2013 will touch 172.4 million units, up from its previous forecast of 165.9 million units. By 2016, the worldwide tablet shipments should reach 282.7 million units, up from a previous forecast of 261.4 million units.

Have a look at the chart below:

"Tablets continue to captivate consumers, and as the market shifts toward smaller, more mobile screen sizes and lower prices points, we expect demand to accelerate in the fourth quarter and beyond," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Tablets, IDC.

 "Android tablets are gaining traction in the market thanks to solid products from Google, Amazon, Samsung, and others. And Apple's November iPad mini launch, along with its surprise refresh of the full-sized iPad, positions the company well for a strong holiday season."

While IDC has forecast an increase in tablet shipments, it lowered its forecast for eReaders for 2012 and beyond. While the front-lit eReader offerings from Amazon and Barnes & Noble have captured the interest of a subset of consumers who prefer a dedicated eReader, most buyers are gravitating toward multi-use tablet products and finding a “good enough” reading experience on these traditional back-lit tablets.

IDC now expects 2012 eReader shipments to top out at 19.9 million units, down from the 27.7 million units that were shipped in 2011.