Global tablet sales exceeded 64 million units in 2011 and are on track to soar to 232 million units in 2016, according to the latest Tablet Technology and Markets report from Futuresource Consulting.
Futuresource said tablet ownership in the consumer market will increase by 200 percent across the United States and Western Europe over the next two years. The two regions reached an installed base of nearly 52 million tablets in 2011, with the market on track to exceed 153 million units in 2013. Ownership will be highest in the United States, with Western European markets showing significant opportunities for growth.
The report notes that tablets have cannibalized the demand for netbooks, but consumers still see the tablet device as an addition to conventional PCs or Macs rather than a replacement. As a result, consumer tablet sales dominated the overall tablet market in 2011, accounting for more than 90 percent of tablet shipments.
In addition, tablets are a significant force in the growth of the app market, accounting for 10 percent of total mobile app downloads in 2011, Futuresource said. And as the tablet continues to become a more attractive platform for developers, Futuresource said it expects tablet apps to account for nearly 20 percent of total mobile app downloads in 2016.
More importantly, says Futuresource, tablet owners are more likely to pay for apps, particularly within the United States. This tidbit comes from a new consumer research report in the "Living with Digital" series from Futuresource.
The Futuresource report also indicates that tablet owners tend to be savvy media users, which presents a lucrative opportunity for content owners to develop major added-value services to complement existing offers. Yet, it is unlikely that tablets will displace large screen TV sets, though tablets will drive full-length online video growth, with key applications allowing content to be played out from one screen to another, providing users with high-quality mobile viewing.
The report also notes that although Apple has maintained its dominance in the tablet space since the launch of the first iPad, Android-powered devices from Samsung, Amazon and Asus have begun to gain traction and increase in popularity. Indeed, a notable rise in market share is anticipated from other brands as more advanced devices are launched and content platforms develop, providing the option to move content across multiple devices, the report said.
Tablets have also revolutionized the world of news publishing, with the majority of publishers now selling digital editions, and together with dedicated e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle, these devices have triggered a shift away from printed books to ebooks, the Futuresource report said. Annual trade for digital book sales is forecast to achieve significant growth, with digital downloads in the United States expected to account for almost 70 percent of book sales by 2016, a substantial rise from 20 percent in 2011. Similar progression is expected in the U.K., with digital sales reaching almost 40 percent.