Even the usually sober Gartner has got caught up in iPad mania.
It expects that, thanks to Apple’s latest iconic device, sales of media tablets will go through the roof, hitting 19.5 million units this year, 54.8 million in 2011, and 208 million in 2014.
Gartner believes the iPad will account for more than 80% of sales this year, as media tablets leave e-readers, netbooks and gaming devices in their dust.
Tablets are already crimping netbook sales and, according to IDC, will take eight percentage points off the netbook share of the laptop market next year.
But Gartner research vice-president Carolina Milanesi says high-end smartphones will feel the most pain from the rise of the tablet, in particular seven-inch devices because “it will be hard for a user to justify owning both when the differentiation in usage model is very limited.”
Next week AT&T and Verizon, the big two US operators, will start selling 3G iPads, after selling Wi-Fi only versions to date.
Their success in shifting iPads highlights the importance of mobile carriers as a sales channel.
Cellcos offer trusted and accessible retail storefronts. For carrier execs searching for the next big mobile thing, that’s worth bearing in mind.
And selling iPads is not a bad business to be in.
Gartner thinks tablets will soon become “a family purchase as well as a personal one.” As prices fall, “media tablets will be added to the list of the devices lying around the house that are shared by the family.”
Apple sold 3 million iPads in the first 80 days, but is likely to issue updated figures when it releases its quarterly results later today.