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October 15, 2010

iPad will send tablet sales soaring, says Gartner

200 million sales in 2014 - but what impact on other mobile devices?

By Steve Evans

Worldwide sales of tablet computers will pass 200 million by 2014, driven by sales of Apple’s hugely popular iPad device, according to analyst house Gartner.

Sales this year are expected to hit 19.5 million before rising 180% to 54.8 million in 2011. 2012 will see sales of around 103 million and by 2014 that figure will surpass 208 million, Gartner believes.

The firm defines a "media tablet" as a slate device that supports touch-screen and runs a lightweight OS such as Apple’s iOS, Android, WebOS or Meego. Devices highlighted by Gartner as examples of media tablets include the iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Cisco’s Cius. Others firms getting in on the act include RIM with its PlayBook and HP.

Although it was the release of Apple’s iPad that kick started the tablet craze the flood of similar devices from other companies will no doubt contribute to the rising sales over the next few years.

Gartner also speculated on the impact these massive sales will have on other devices. "The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalisation 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 cannibalisation threat as media tablet average selling prices (ASPs) drop below $300 over the next two years."

Low-end consumer notebooks will only marginally suffer from cannibalisation but sales of high-end smartphones may well be hit by 7-inch tablets – people will find it hard to justify owning both devices when there is not too much difference between them, Gartner said.
Turning to enterprise use, Milanesi said tablet sales at the moment are driven by a desire for a secondary device to use for email access and other work-related tasks while out on the road and are very much used as notebook companion.

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"The majority of knowledge workers cannot use media tablets to replace their notebooks. Since these workers usually also have smartphones, media tablets become their third device. Most organizations will not buy that third device. Because of the convenience factor for travel and an "instant on" for quick look-up functions, many users are paying for the media tablets with their own money to use both for work and pleasure," she said.

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