Sales of media tablets worldwide are expected to reach 19.5 million units in 2010 and will explode 181 percent to 54.8 million units in 2011, according to analysts at the research firm Gartner.
The firm considers media tablets to be touchscreen slate devices that run lightweight operating systems like Apple’s iPhone operating system (iOS), Google’s Android, HP’s WebOS, and Nokia’s Meego. They include devices like the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Gartner likely chose the “media tablet” designation to differentiate this new generation of tablets from existing tablet devices that run desktop versions of Windows. It also means that future devices like the Windows 7-powered HP Slate weren’t included in Gartner’s projections.
According to Carolina Milanesia, research VP at Gartner: “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. Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices (ASPs) drop below $300 over the next 2 years.”
The firm predicts minimal cannibalization of low-end consumer notebooks and the majority of smartphones. High-end smartphones with big screens may suffer from the availability of cheap 7-inch tablets, since users may opt for a more portable smartphone if they own a 7-inch tablet.
In 2012, Gartner says that tablet sales will reach 103.4 million, and will increase to 154.2 million in 2013. Clearly, it doesn’t expect demand for the segment of computing devices to slow for some time. 61 percent of tablet sales in 2010 will stem from North America, but by 2014 the continent’s share will drop to 2014.
Gartner also expects sales of tablets with cellular connections to increase: They account for 55 percent of sales in 2010, but by 2014 that number may jump to 80 percent. The firm also predicts that tablets will become increasingly subsidized by wireless companies (the Galaxy Tab is a start) like netbooks are today. We may also see more plans like AT&T’s no-contract cellular offerings for the iPad.
Tablets will find a niche in the enterprise space as a notebook companion or secondary device to take on the road, the firm said. They will become the third device for knowledge workers behind their smartphones and notebooks. Since most organizations won’t pay for a third device — something which is convenient, but not exactly critical to work — users will pay for the devices on their own and use them for both work and play.
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