(Updated Nov. 15 with Oppenheimer's forecast) Curious whether Gartner, IDC, Morgan Stanley, In-Stat, or some other market research firm has the biggest crush on the tablet market? Then you've come to the right place!
I gathered up all of the publicly-known forecasts from the leading market researchers and did as much numbercrunching and chartmaking as my limited Excel skills would allow, in order to answer several burning questions:
1) What firms have the highest and lowest 2010 forecasts for the global tablet market?
|Global Tablet Market Forecasts for 2010|
|Analyst Firm||Shipments (in millions)|
Surprisingly, it's Gartner - so huge that analyst relations insiders have nicknamed it the Borg - that is going out most on a limb, predicting sales of 20 million this year, or 33% more than the next-most bullish researcher (Oppenheimer).
But Carolina Milanesi, Gartner's guru for tablets, is unworried.
“The all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the cannibalization of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers, gaming devices and media players,” she said in mid-October, adding that netbooks will suffer the most as tablet prices fall below $300.
Sound reasoning, I think. However, empiricists should take note: iSuppli, DisplaySearch and In-Stat, which all produce copious research on device and PC components and thus often have very good insight into what's actually happening in Asia and at the channel level, all expect the tablet market to be only about half the size that Gartner sees.
2) Did the iPad's success convince skeptical analysts to raise their tablet forecasts as 2010 progressed?
Definitely - check it out (click charts to see a larger version)
From the beginning of the year til today, the forecasts grew 4 to 5x.
Or put another way: tablet market forecasts in the first half of the year averaged 10 million. After July 1st, they averaged 15 million. And depending on how the key Christmas season plays out, the actual market may push past Gartner's 20 million call.
3) So how do researchers see 2011?
Everyone sees near-hockey-stick-like growth, though they vary in their final 2011 forecast:
* 'Moderate' forecast, from interview with ABI analyst Jeff Orr, Nov. 12, 2010
** Upwardly revised figures.
In table format:
|2011 Tablet Market (in Millions)|
|ABI Research* **||28|
Analyst firms hate to give away data they want to sell. So only Gartner was generous and gutsy enough to put out forecasts for each of the next 5 years. It is more bullish than other forecasts by a factor of 2-4x.
And in table form:
|Tablet Forecasts (in Millions)|
|ABI Research* **||80|