Gartner: Nearly 20 million tablets to be sold in 2010

Gartner estimates worldwide sales of iPads and other tablets will total 19.5 million units this year

Gartner estimates worldwide sales of iPads and other tablets will total 19.5 million units this year and nearly triple that number next year as the devices win over both consumers and business customers.

Strong sales are led by the iPad, which Apple has said it sold more than 3 million of during the first 3 months they were on the market and that financial analysts speculate have sold in numbers ranging from 3.8 million to 6 million in Q4.  The product is helping to fuel Apple overall toward financial pace, with the company reaching its highest stock price ever this week at over $300.

The success of the all-in-one tablet market is taking its toll on markets for other devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and mini-notebooks.

“Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices drop below $300 over the next 2 years,” says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

The market watcher is looking for tablet unit sales to total around 54.8 million next year and top 208 million in 2014. In addition to Apple iPads, tablets include those based on Android, WebOS and other such operating systems. Even RIM has entered the tablet market with its PlayBook device and Amazon has been among other companies said to be eyeing the tablet market, though catching market leader Apple won't be easy.

(Another research firm, ABI, also this week issued its tablet projections: More than 11 million units to be sold this year.)

Gartner says the North American market will account for 61 per cent of the total market this year but that the percentage will fall to 43 per cent in 2014 as tablets become more widely available across the world. More than half of tablets sold in 2010 will support WiFi, Gartner says.

In the enterprise, Gartner sees the 10-inch tablet being most popular as a companion to notebook computers or a device people might take on the road for doing presentations and such. News this week that AT&T would be selling iPads directly to businesses can only further the trend of the devices showing up at work.

The popularity of tablets also has sparked a real battle involving questions swirling about how Intel and AMD will get get in the action.

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