Apple's iPad is poised for tremendous sales growth in the coming years, research firm Gartner predicts.
According to Gartner, about 63.6 million tablets overall will be sold worldwide this year, representing an increase of 261.4 percent over the 17.6 million that consumers bought in 2010. Gartner expects Apple to own 73.4 percent of the market this year, selling 46.7 million iPads. Android-based tablets will trail far behind with 11 million unit sales this year, the research firm predicts.
However, it's Gartner's estimates on iPad sales in 2015 that might prove most impressive. The research firm said it expects Apple to sell a whopping 148.7 million iPads in 2015. Android-based tablet sales, in comparison, will hit 116.4 million, Gartner says. All told, 326 million tablets are expected to be sold in 2015.
"Unless competitors can respond with a similar approach, challenges to Apple's position will be minimal," Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner, said today in a statement. "Apple had the foresight to create this market and in doing that planned for it as far as component supplies such as memory and screen. This allowed Apple to bring the iPad out at a very competitive price and no compromise in experience among the different models that offer storage and connectivity options."
Gartner is especially bullish on the future of tablets. Last month, another research firm, In-Stat, reported that it believes tablet shipments won't even hit 250 million units until 2017. If that company's estimates prove true, the research firm says Apple's iPad and Android-based devices will own about 90 percent of the tablet market.
Aside from those platforms, Gartner believes that others will also see some success in the coming years. The research firm says Microsoft will sell about 4.3 million tablets next year and see that figure grow to 34.4 million in 2015.
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Over the last couple years, Microsoft has been nonexistent in the tablet arena as vendors opt for other platforms to install on their devices. But with Windows 8, Microsoft is hoping to change its luck. That operating system, which Microsoft detailed last week at its Build conference in California, is designed with tablets in mind and will come with a host of tablet-friendly features, including multitouch support.
As Microsoft looks toward tablets to help its software business grow in the coming years, the PC market, which the company has relied upon over the years, will see its growth slow this year. Gartner reported earlier this month that it anticipates PC shipment growth to hit just 3.8 percent this year and 10.9 percent next year. The firm said that it expects 352 million PCs to ship this year and 404 million to hit store shelves worldwide next year.