Gartner on Wednesday hinted that media tablets---think Apple's iPad---may test sales of mobile devices in 2011 as 54.8 million units are shipped.
The research firm provided its tablet outlook almost in passing as it handicapped smartphone sales for the third quarter. However, that passing line raises an interesting question. Will tablets ding smartphone sales? Apple's 10-inch iPad won't hurt smartphones because it's too big. But if 7-inch tablets take off---an assumption where the jury is still out---it's plausible that some of those sales will come at the expense of smartphones.
A few other threads from Gartner's third quarter smartphone recap:
Apple is the No. 4 mobile phone maker in the world behind Nokia, Samsung and LG. Apple's market share would have to more than double to catch LG.
Will all phones be smart? Smartphones accounted for 19.3 percent of the 417 million units shipped in the third quarter. However, white box manufacturers, which produce dumb phones in emerging markets, are driving sales too. Gartner said it still sees a "continued need for non-3G devices."
By platform, Symbian continued to lead, but Android is closing fast.