Tablet Mania: 50 Million To Ship in 2011

By on March 23, 2011

Industry research firm IDC confirms tablet mania is in full swing, with 50 million tablets forecast to ship this year, up from just 18 million in 2010. The trajectory is expected to continue next year as well, with IDC forecasting 75 million tablets will ship in 2012. The iPad remains most popular by far, but more competition is on the way.

Looking quarter by quarter, IDC estimates that vendors shipped 10.1 million media tablets worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2010 — more than double the 4.5 million they shipped in Q3. Apple’s iPad accounted for a 73 percent share of the tablet market in the fourth quarter. Samsung’s more recently introduced Galaxy Tab came in a respectable second, capturing more than a 17 percent share.

Global Numbers

Telco operators accounted for nearly 14 percent of all shipments of media tablets in the final quarter of 2010 — up from just 1 percent in the prior three months. Though the United States remained the world’s largest tablet market in the final quarter of last year, Western Europe and the Asia/Pacific, excluding Japan grew almost twice as fast on a sequential basis.

“For 2010, Media Tablet shipments were split 47 percent in the U.S., 30 percent in Western Europe, 13 percent in Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, and the remaining 10 percent in Japan, Canada, Latin America and CEMA (Central Europe and the Middle East),” explained IDC Vice President Loren Loverde.

“We are in process of updating our forecast,” Loverde said, “but expect roughly 50 million media tablets [to ship] in 2011 and 75 million in 2012, with the U.S. accounting for 38 percent and 30 percent, respectively.”

Strong iPad 2 Demand

A new iPad 2 featuring a thinner design than the original iPad, with faster chips and front/rear cameras launches today in the United States, and, in 26 overseas markets on March 25. Although a substantial number of competing tablet devices are slated to launch later this year, IDC expects Apple to maintain a 70 percent to 80 percent share of the tablet market in 2011.

Piper Jaffrey’s analysts believe that initial demand will be stronger for iPad 2 than it was for iPad 1 — reaching 1 million units faster than the 28 days it took for the original iPad. Despite the iPad 2′s design upgrades, Apple has elected to maintain the pricing per GB, starting at $499 for 16GB and increasing by $130 for 3G and $100 for more storage, according to analysts Gene Munster, Michael Olson and Andrew Murphy.

“We are modeling for Apple to sell 5.5 million iPads in the March 2011 quarter [and] 27.4 million iPads in calendar year 2011,” Murphy said Friday. “We estimate that iPad will represent 55 percent of all 50 million tablets sold worldwide in calendar year 2011.”

Apple’s Rivals

IDC anticipates that a 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab with the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system will launch later this year, but does not expect the refresh will enable Samsung to maintain its current 17 percent market share at a time when many other competing devices are slated to enter the market.

The firm’s analysts view the new Motorola Xoom as a worthy Apple competitor in function, but expect Xoom’s relatively high price to keep Motorola’s new tablet from gaining significant share.

Other competitive tablets are expected to hit the market in earnest in the second half of 2011. “Many of these products will be more competitive in function, like the Xoom,” IDC’s analysts predicted. “But we expect only those from large vendors with significant marketing and channel structure — in addition to a few technologically and price competitive devices — to capture significant share.”

Gartner believes growing consumer enthusiasm for the iPad and other media tablets will dramatically slow home mobile-PC sales, especially in mature markets. Overall, the research firm now anticipates that home mobile-PCs will average less than 10 percent annual growth in mature markets from 2011 through 2015.

“We once thought that mobile PC growth would continue to be sustained by consumers buying second and third mobile PCs as personal devices,” said Gartner Research Director George Shiffler. “However, we now believe that consumers are not only likely to forgo additional mobile PC buys, but are also likely to extend the lifetimes of the mobile PCs they retain as they adopt media tablets and other mobile PC alternatives as their primary mobile device.”

About Mark Long

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