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How will the media tablet market pan out over the next few years? According to the market watcher IMS Research, Google's Android OS and mobile network operators will be key driving forces.

By 2012, mobile and fixed-line broadband providers will account for more than half of all tablets sales. They will reduce devices' up-front prices in return for subscription commitments from consumers, IMS says.

IMS' headline forecast for this year is that almost a quarter - 24 per cent, to be precise - of the tablets that ship will be based on Android. Ten per cent will come with Windows 7 and, although IMS didn't say so explicitly, that means more than 60 per cent will be iPads.

In the US, the iPad starts off at $499, and IMS forecasts a flood of web-centric $200 devices - presumably many Android based - over the next few years.

These, we note, appear to be the Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs) that chip maker Intel has championed for some years, all the while working on reducing its Atom family's power consumption stats to a level where it can seriously compete with ARM-based chippery. ®

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