Lurking in the wings are devices powered by Microsoft's Windows 8 and Windows RT -- the latter formerly called WOA, for Windows on ARM, by the Redmond, Wash. developer.
IDC hasn't taken a firm stance on Windows 8/Windows RT, because devices, and more importantly, their prices, have yet to be disclosed. And pricing seemed to be foremost on O'Donnell's mind.
"Imagine this scenario," he said. "The Kindle Fire and Nook are at $199 with 7-in. tablets. Each will probably do a larger-screened device -- 9- or 10-in. -- at $299. Apple may do a 7-in. iPad at $299. It already has the iPad 2 at $399 and the new iPad at $499. That leaves very little room for the other guys."
Those "other guys" include Google and hardware partners creating what the IDC analysts called "pure-play Android tablets," in other words those that use a standard edition of Google's operating system rather than one that's heavily customized, as in the case of the Fire or Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet.
"They're going to face some pretty serious competition on price," said O'Donnell.
Mainelli echoed that. "To compete in the media tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points," Mainelli said.
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