Global shipments of tablet computers will reach 81 million by 2015, according to estimates from Juniper Research.
Far East Tablet Sales Will Boom
North America and Western Europe will remain the primary drivers of global tablet computer sales and sales in both regions will approximately quadruple between 2010 and 2015, according to MarketingCharts analysis of Juniper data. However, tablet sales in the Far East, which as of 2010 are virtually negligible, will substantially increase to a level approximately two-thirds that of Western Europe.
Meanwhile, tablet sales in Africa/Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Indian Subcontinent, Central/Eastern Europe, and Latin America will remain relatively small portions of the global total, but increase significantly from their current levels.
Tablets Will Steal Netbook Sales
Juniper has identified several developing global tablet sales trends:
- The tablet will take share from the netbook market, although netbook sales will remain a significant part of the broader connected device market, partly because the netbook has different uses than the tablet.
- The tablet is more streamlined for consumption of data; laptops and netbooks are better suited to word processing functions.
- Several tiers of connected devices will exist, with the tablet at the top bridging the gap between smartphones and computers. In addition, there will be a top end smartphone market, with second-tier smartphones replacing feature phones.
- Competition will drive down the prices of all connected devices.
The operating system will likely become a key selling point for tablet providers, rather than a software platform running in the background.
User Demand Increases
As detailed by Juniper in the chart below, several drivers and inhibitors are developing in the tablet market. Most notably, improved features/functions and the new form factor are driving tablet sales:
Tablets Have Low Penetration
Findings from The Nielsen Company report “The Increasingly Connected Consumer: Connected Devices” indicate that tablet computers have only penetrated 4% of US households. In contrast, smartphones, the connected device with the highest penetration rate, can be found in 25% of US households.
Other popular connected devices include portable game players (21%) and portable media players (16%). Netbooks (8%) and ebook readers (6%) have penetration rates not much higher than that of tablet computers. However, almost half of tablet computer owners consider themselves “early adopters.”