Tablet computer ownership to surge 200pc in next two years

25 Apr 2012

The new iPad

If you thought Apple selling 12m iPads in the last quarter is some feat, think again. Research suggests that total global tablet sales including consumer, commercial, industrial and institutional exceeded 64m units in 2011 and are on track to soar to 232m units in 2016.

According to the latest Tablet Technology and Markets report from Futuresource Consulting, tablet ownership will increase by 200pc across the US and Western Europe over the next two years.

An installed base of nearly 52m was achieved in 2011 across the two regions, with the market on track to exceed 153m units in 2013. Ownership will be highest in the US, with Western European markets showing significant opportunities for growth.

Tablets have cannibalised the demand for netbooks, but consumers still see the device as an addition to conventional PCs or Macs, rather than a replacement.

As a result, consumer tablet sales dominated the overall tablet market in 2011, accounting for more than 90pc of tablet shipments.

Tablets are a significant force in the growth of the app market, accounting for 10pc of total mobile app downloads in 2011.

With relentless development and availability of apps across multiple platforms, expectations are for this share to almost double in 2016.

More importantly, tablet owners are more likely to pay for apps, particularly within the US, according to the new consumer research report in the ‘Living with Digital’ series from Futuresource.

Tablets unleash a media revolution

Tablet owners are keen media users, a trait which presents a lucrative opportunity for content owners to develop major added-value services to complement existing offers.

The report says it is unlikely that tablets will displace large-screen TV sets, though tablets will drive full-length online video growth, with key applications allowing content to be played out from one screen to another, providing users with high quality mobile viewing.

Apple has maintained its dominance since the launch of the first iPad. However, as Android-powered devices from Samsung, Amazon and Asus gain traction and increase in popularity, it is no longer all about the iPad.

A notable rise in market share is anticipated from other brands as more advanced devices are launched and content platforms develop, providing the option to move content across multiple devices.

Tablets have also revolutionised the world of news publishing, with the majority of publishers now selling digital editions, and together with dedicated e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, these devices have triggered a shift away from printed books into e-books.

Annual trade for digital book sales is forecast to achieve significant growth, with digital downloads in the US expected to account for almost 70pc of book sales by 2016, a substantial rise from 20pc in 2011.

Similar progression is expected in the UK, with digital sales reaching almost 40pc share.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years