Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

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

“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.”