Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gartner forecasts that worldwide tablet sales will reach 119 million units this year, almost doubling 2011 sales

Usually forecasts by analysts come and they go and few remember them unless they are so wrong as to be laughable. Gartner Inc. today released a forecast that says that there will be 119 million tablets sold this year worldwide. Whether we all remember to hold them to that estimate is doubtful.

The research firm forecasts that Apple will sell almost 73 million units this year – that puts in on the high end of estimates – but it must be said that puts it on the high end of forecasts, but those estimates appear to keep increasing.

Gartner also forecasts almost 38 million Android tablets will be sold this year. Here is where I have my doubts – not so much about the number so much as to whether we'll really be able to confirm that number due to the way Amazon and others report their sales (or shipments).
"Despite PC vendors and phone manufacturers wanting a piece of the pie and launching themselves into the media tablet market, so far, we have seen very limited success outside of Apple with its iPad," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said in the company's release of the study.

"As vendors struggled to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem, inventories were built and only 60 million units actually reached the hands of consumers across the world. The situation has not improved in early 2012, when the arrival of the new iPad has reset the benchmark for the product to beat," Milanesi said.

Gartner projects sales out to 2016 where it has Apple selling almost 170 million tablets. OK, that's where I start to tune things out, but you can see all their projected numbers here.

To me the issue remains market penetration: that point when a majority of the desired audience owns a device. We're already getting far closer to that level with tablets than any forecaster projected back in April 2010, the month the iPad launched in the U.S. If we get to 50 percent plus one of all newspaper and magazine readers owning a tablet and downloading media apps we will have reached the point of no return. Based on these numbers it looks like we'll get there pretty soon.