updated 11:20 am EDT, Thu June 17, 2010
iPad could push past netbooks in two years
Apple's iPad should help push tablet sales past netbooks in as little as two years, Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps estimated today. She believes that, even with a conservative estimate of 3.5 million tablets sold this year, the category could grow to 20.4 million by 2012 and make up 18 percent of the market while netbooks would peak at 17 percent. A year later, tablets would overtake declining desktop sales, reaching 21 percent versus 20 percent.
The researcher expects that growth to slow, but by 2015 tablets could have as much as 23 percent of the field where desktops would have fallen to 18 percent and netbooks would have remained flat. Regular notebooks would dominate as mainstream computers with about 42 percent, but would shrink from about 44 percent this year as some opt for tablets instead.
Although the category is still new and could vary from the predictions, Rotman Epps is potentially conservative. Apple has already sold two million iPads in two months and is very likely to outpace the analyst's estimates just by itself. Most of those sales were to US customers and don't reflect the influence of international sales.
Other tablets should launch this year but will have relatively little impact; the ASUS Eee Pad and Android tablets from ICD and Notion Ink are supposed to ship later this year but aren't thought to have similar reach to the iPad.