Tablets sales to hit nearly 20 million this year

Tablet boom isn't good news for e-readers and high-end smartphones though...

Tablet boom isn't good news for e-readers and high-end smartphones though...

Sales of tablet devices are set to reach 19.5 million units worldwide in 2010 - driven in large part by the popularity of Apple's iPad, research has found.

Some 54.8 million tablets are expected to be sold by the end of 2011, Gartner has predicted - representing year-on-year growth of 181 per cent. In 2014, the analyst believes shipments will reach 208 million units.

Despite the tablet boom, enterprises remain largely immune to the devices' charms. While laptops and smartphones are seen as necessary devices for workers, businesses are unconvinced of the need to buy a third device, especially during the current economic climate.

Nevertheless, tablets are still making their way into the business as individuals - who have purchased the devices for personal use - are also employing them for work purposes.

Apple iPad tablet

Tablets such as Apple's iPad are finding their way into enterprises by the back door
(Photo credit: James Martin/CNET)

Where tablets have made their way into the enterprise, the devices are mainly used to conduct businesses when travelling, with workers using them for fast access to emails, calendars and web applications as well as showing PowerPoint presentations.

In the consumer space, however, tablets are poised to become mainstream. As the cost of tablets drops, the devices will increasingly be added to families' entertainment set-ups, Gartner has predicted.

With the tablet set to become a household purchase, sales of other consumer electronics could be hit as result. Sales of portable games consoles, e-readers and media players are most likely to suffer, according to Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

Sales of higher-end smartphones could also suffer from the rising number of seven-inch tablets being purchased, according to Gartner. With consumers struggling to justify the need to own two similar, expensive pieces of kit, they may opt to buy a lower-end smartphone instead.

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