Marketwatchers IDC Corp. forecast that global sales of media tablets - its term for the iPad/Android generation of tablets, not the homely, chunky pads carried by your delivery guy - will grow from 13.1 million this year to about 60 million in 2014. That's an impressive compound annual growth rate of 46%.
Similarly, the number of tablets purchased by businesses, schools and governments will grow from 300,000 this year to 6.5 million. That's an even higher CAGR of 116%.
On the other hand, businesses are expected to buy more than 300 million PCs in 2014 (my own calculation based on IDC's 2014 forecast of 500 million PCs sold worldwide and the current 60:40 split for commercial:consumer sales).
In other words: in 5 years, your company will still be buying 46 times more PCs than tablets (heck, it's probably buying more servers than tablets).
Sliced yet another way: by 2014, consumers will buy nine times more tablets than businesses.
Speaking at a breakfast briefing at CTIA on Thursday, IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian defended that projection, noting that she fully expects many of those consumer-owned tablets to be used at work, aka the 'Bring Your Own Laptop/Smartphone/Device' trend.
In other words: businesses will still be swimming in tablets connecting to their networks and downloading their data. And they'll have to create policies and install software to manage and secure those tablets.
My gut feeling: IDC is right about the Bring Your Own trend, but they are still grossly underestimating the willingness of businesses to pony up for tablets at work.
See my online list of schools, colleges and businesses already testing or deploying iPads.
"This (forecast) does feel a bit low," agreed Philippe Winthrop, founder of the Enterprise Mobility Forum and himself a former Yankee Group, Strategy Analytics and IDC analyst. "Tablets will become another piece of the mobile workforce's toolkit, serving a role between ultraportable smartphone and the now-heavy laptop."
Do you think IDC is underestimating business demand for tablets?