That has been Microsoft's refrain in 2013 -- that it's in the tablet business, more generally in the "device" business, for the long term.
"But this is what we expected all along," Reith contended. "This is a transition of the form factor, and the Surface was a revolutionary product at the time of its launch. But the volume [of Windows tablet shipments] will go up. We think in 2014 Windows 8 will start to resonate with consumers."
Until then, Microsoft can only hang on and try to claw what it can from the tablet market.
Microsoft will have a tougher time getting consumers to pay attention to Windows tablets during the second half of the year as Apple, whose iPad sales slumped 14.1% and share fell 25% quarter-over-quarter, gears up for fall refreshes of its tablet line.
Included in that refresh, if analysts get their wish, will be a reduced-priced iPad Mini, either a discount on the existing model or a new device specially made for the lower-cost market.
"There's no question that the second half of the year will be strong overall for tablets," said Reith.
IDC expects that will be the case for Windows tablets as well. "Earlier this year, we estimated that 10 million Windows devices will ship in 2013, and that was with 2 million this quarter, which we think was met," said Reith. "That means nearly 70% will be back-half weighted."
If IDC's forecasts are accurate, Windows tablets will have accounted for approximately 4.3% of all shipments for the year.
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