Tablet Sales to Near 20 Million in 2010, Gartner Predicts

By Nathan Eddy  |  Print this article Print

Gartner research projects sales of tablet devices like the Apple iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab to near 20 million in 2010.

Driven by sales of the Apple iPad, worldwide media tablet sales to users are forecast to reach 19.5 million units in 2010, according to IT research firm Gartner. The firm said media tablets are poised for strong growth with worldwide user sales projected to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010, and surpass 208 million units in 2014. Gartner analysts said the impact of media tablets on other devices would vary among segments.

Gartner defined a media tablet as a slate device that supports touch and runs a lightweight operating system such as iOS, Android, webOS or Meego. Examples of media tablets include the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Cisco Cius, among others. Company research suggested North America will account for 61 percent of media tablet sales in 2010, but as these devices become available in more markets, North America’s share of media tablet sales would drop to 43 percent in 2014.

Low-end consumer notebooks will only marginally suffer from cannibalization. Gartner analysts expect very limited cannibalization on communication devices based on open OS (smartphones). The majority of the impact will be from 7-inch media tablets on high-end smartphones as it will be hard for a user to justify owning both when the differentiation in usage model is very limited. Users buying a 7-inch tablet might opt for a lower priced smartphone with a smaller form factor.

"The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalization of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media players," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. "Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices (ASPs) drop below $300 over the next two years."

In 2010, celluar/WiFi media tablets will account for 55 percent of sales, and by 2014, celluar/WiFi media tablets will account for 80 percent of sales, Gartner research concluded. In the enterprise space, for the immediate future, the main use of media tablets is as a notebook companion or as a secondary device to take on the road or use for fast access to e-mail, calendaring, interrogating Web applications and information sources, and showing PowerPoint presentations, according to company research.

"Communication service providers (CSPs) who have so far subsidized mini-notebooks to drive mobile broadband uptake will shift their marketing spend to media tablets. Such subsidies will help drive adoption among those consumers who see the initial hardware cost as a hurdle," Milanesi said. "For the rest, the freedom of paying for cellular only if and when needed, and not having to add another contract to the one a user might already have on his or her phone, is a great advantage and has so far proved successful for Apple."