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IHS iSuppli's Alexander noted that by the end of the quarter Surface would have been on sale for only two of the quarter's three months and the quarter still has several weeks to go.
In October the Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft planned to produce between 3 million and 5 million Surface tablets in the current quarter. The report was based on information gleaned from manufacturers that supplied components for the product.
But if the analysts' predictions are accurate, the demand for Surface tablets won't come close to those production numbers.
By way of contrast, Apple sold 3 million units of its fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini tablets in a three-day period last month.
IDC, in its report, now forecasts that worldwide tablet PC sales will reach 122.3 million units, up from an earlier forecast of 117.1 million units. The market researcher increased its estimate because of faster-than-expected Android tablet sales and "robust demand" for the new iPad mini.
For 2013, IDC is predicting that worldwide tablet sales will hit 172.4 million units.
Windows-based tablets, including Microsoft's own Surface and tablets manufactured by other vendors, will account for only 2.9 percent of tablet sales this year, IDC said. That compares to Apple's iPad, which will dominate with 53.8 percent of all tablet sales, and Android tablets, with 42.7 percent.
IDC is predicting that Windows-based tablets will account for 10.3 percent of the tablet market in 2016 -- a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 70 percent. But that will still be far below the iPad's 49.7 percent of the 2016 tablet market and Android's 39.7 percent.