Market research firm IDC estimates nearly 17 million media tablets exchanged hands in 2010.
The worldwide media tablet market grew 45.1% in the third quarter of 2010 (3Q10), driven almost exclusively by global demand for Apple's groundbreaking iPad. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, vendors shipped 4.8 million units globally in 3Q10, compared to 3.3 million units in the second quarter of 2010 and Apple's iPad represented nearly 90% of the media tablets shipped worldwide in 3Q10.
The growing popularity of tablet devices among consumers worldwide is evidenced not only by adoption of media tablets, but also of ereaders. The third quarter of 2010 saw global ereader shipments increase to 2.7 million units representing 40% growth over 2Q10, with the U.S. representing nearly three-quarters of the worldwide ereader market.
"The media tablet market's rapid evolution will continue to accelerate in 4Q10 and beyond with new product and service introductions, channel expansion, price competition and experimentation with new use cases among consumers and enterprises," said Susan Kevorkian, research director, Mobile Connected Devices.
According to IDC, media tablets are tablet form factor devices with color displays larger than 5 in. and smaller than 14 in. running lightweight operating systems (such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS) and can be based on either x86 or ARM processors. By contrast, tablet PCs run full PC operating systems and are based on x86 processors. Media tablets support multiple connectivity technologies and a broad range of applications, which differentiates them from single purpose–focused devices such as ereaders. Media tablet market evolution will be driven not only by product introductions from PC, consumer electronics, and mobile phone vendors, but also by expanded distribution channels (with mobile operators playing a key role) and commercial adoption by businesses.
Looking forward, IDC expects the media tablet market to finish 2010 at nearly 17 million units, and forecasts 44.6 million will ship in 2011, with the U.S. representing nearly 40% of the total. In 2012, IDC forecasts worldwide shipments of 70.8 million units. Growth in 2011 and beyond will be driven by device vendors introducing media tablets based on Android and other operating systems, as well as price and feature competition and strong demand in both the consumer and commercial segments.
For the ereader market, IDC anticipates 2010 to close at 10.8 million units shipped worldwide, with the U.S. representing 72.4% of global shipments. IDC forecasts 14.7 million units to ship in 2011 and 16.6 million in 2012, with demand driven by price competition among epaper-based device vendors, the introduction of color display ereaders, and the expansion of digital book and periodical content offerings across genres and languages.
Vendor Outlook: Media Tablets
* Apple definitively led the worldwide media tablet market in shipments and set the standard for technology innovation in 2010, with nearly 4.2 million units shipped in 3Q10 and an 87.4% share worldwide.
* During 3Q10 a handful of tier 2 and tier 3 vendors shipped media tablets based primarily on Android 2.1 and 2.2. In 4Q10, Samsung's introduction of the Galaxy Tab brought the first tier 1 device vendor to the Android media tablet market. Media tablet market growth is expected to accelerate significantly in 1Q11 with new products from multiple high-profile device vendors, including Motorola's Xoom, based on Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), and RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook based on BlackBerry Tablet OS.
Vendor Outlook: eReaders
* Amazon was the market leader for the quarter with more than 1.1 million units shipped and 41.5% share worldwide.
* Pandigital, which has a U.S. focus for its Novel ereaders with models based not only on epaper but also color LCD technology, came in second to Amazon worldwide and just edged out Barnes and Noble.
* Barnes and Noble, which is currently shipping exclusively in the U.S. market, was a strong contender for the number 3 position in 3Q10 and is expected to have good results in 4Q10 given its strong brand, competitive pricing for its epaper-based products, and the introduction of the new NOOKcolor in 4Q10.
* Sony was a distant number 4 vendor with slightly more than 200,000 units shipped and 8.4% worldwide share. Sony's early lead in North American ereader market has been usurped by Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
* China-based Hanvon edged close to Sony and effectively tied for fourth place with 8.2% worldwide share.