Microsoft Windows 8: Can Cheap Tablets Steal IPad Market Share?

A new report claims that Microsoft will try to push Apple's tablet market share below 50 percent by releasing 32 Windows 8-based tablets.

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As the Windows 8 Release Candidate launch nears, rumors are abuzz about what Microsoft intends to do with its new operating system. In the wake of Microsoft announcing that only three editions of Windows 8 will be released, rumors have leaked of the company's goals to thwart the success of the new Apple iPad.

Microsoft is aiming to steal a large portion of Apple iPad sales, so much so that Apple's market share drops below 50 percent in the middle of 2013 according to a Digitimes report. As is the case with most rumor stories published by the Taiwanese tech blog, anonymous sources were cited.

In an attempt to claim a large portion of the tablet market, Microsoft is reportedly working with several third-party vendors including Dell, HP, Lenovo, ASUS, Toshiba and Acer to make several tablets available by the end of the year. Digitimes sources say that 32 Windows 8-based tablets could launch by the end of 2012. The tablets, we presume, will be run on Windows 8 built for the ARM architecture, dubbed Windows RT.

Even with 32 new tablets running Windows 8, it will hard for Microsoft to slow down Apple iPad sales. Apple currently holds 62 percent of the tablet market despite strong sales from rival devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Amazon Kindle Fire.

Pricing may be a key difference between a Windows 8-based tablet and the Apple iPad, however, Android tablets below $300 have failed to dethrone the iPad as a top seller. Despite failed attempts in the past, Digitimes is reporting that Lenovo and Acer are particularly interested in releasing a Windows 8 tablet below $300 in order to compete with popular Android tablets.

Apple may be gearing up to thwart the slew of low-budget tablets making their way to the market by releasing its own version of a low-budget tablet. Rumors are still circulating about the possibility of Apple launching an iPad Mini this year.

In a report from a Chinese net portal, NetEase, sources claimed that the Apple iPad Mini would be released around the third quarter of this year as part of a counter attack against Windows tablets hitting the market. The report also claims that the device will cost somewhere between $250 and $299. The site says that Apple will have 6 million Mini iPads ready to ship in the third quarter, which, if sold out, would dramatically affect Apple's domination of the tablet market for the better.

Apple's tablet market share has fallen since low-budget tablets have become more popular. In the final quarter of 2010, Apple controlled 87 percent of the tablet market, with little-to-no competitors in the market at all. Fast forward to the final quarter of 2011, when both Amazon and Barnes & Noble released low-budget tablets, Apple's tablet market share grip had dropped more than 20 percentage points.

Despite success from low-budget Android-based tablets, Apple still owns more than half of the market share. Whether Microsoft is able to push the company below 50 percent with the release of Windows 8 remains to be seen.

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