Spurred along by the might of Apple’s iPad, sales of tablets are expected to reach 19.5 million units worldwide this year, says research firm Gartner.
Next year, Gartner predicts that consumer demand will see tablet sales leap 181% to 54.8 million units.
The predictions keep on coming too with a massive 208 million units expected by 2014.
The Gartner figures show that North American consumers will lead the way and account for 61% of tablet sales this year. But as launches of tablets begin to roll out outside the US, its lion’s share will drop to 43% in the next four years.
In 2010 tablets that feature both Wi-Fi and 3G functionality will make up 55% of all sales, says Gartner. But by 2014 they’ll account for 80% of all sales.
“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 drop below $300 over the next two years.”
The research firm also predicts that 10-inch media tablets will play a companion role in the enterprise market.
“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,” the report explained.
“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 organisations 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.”
Earlier this year a report was released that said staff would be willing to fund their own IT equipment for work purposes as long as they could choose the device.