11 million iPad-like tablets in 2010

Estimate tripled since Apple iPad success

11 million tablets, led by Apple's iPad, are expected to be sold by the end of 2010. This is three times the estimate ABI Research made just six months ago.

"Our forecast of 11 million media tablet shipments in 2010 is based both on the broader availability of the iPad and on the delayed introduction of competing products," says ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr.

"Assuming that competing tablets from other vendors do arrive in the second half of the year as expected, we believe that the iPad will account for a significant portion - but not all - of the projected 11 million units.

"To capitalize on the usual fourth quarter sales boom, other tablets need to reach retailers' shelves by early September."

Orr suggests that the media tablet segment is still far short of a "mass market" and that a market size justifying that term probably won't be reached before 2013. Much depends on Apple's distribution reach, which is still quite limited, and the relative success of its eventual competitors.

A number of competing tablets were to have been launched by now, but the global recession, implementation of the most suitable operating system, and the challenge of matching the iPad's user experience have all caused delays.

"The buzz around tablets has implications for other parts of the consumer electronics market," Orr continues.

"In particular, the surge in interest in media tablets is impacting the MID (Mobile Internet Device) category. Most of the volume that we've projected for the MID category since 2007 is now being taken over by other device form factors: media tablets, but also smartphones, which are assuming more and more of the functionality that was envisioned for these 'non-voice handsets'."

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Lexton Snol

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