iPads, Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device: Forrester

iPads and other tablets will be most users’ preferred device by 2016, with sales expected to reach 375 million, according to Forrester. ABI, meanwhile, expects 13.7 billion app downloads by 2016.

Forrester Research expects iPads and other tablets to become the preferred, primary device for millions of people, analyst Frank Gillett wrote in a an April 23 blog post, which also announced that the research firm will be sharing the prediction in an upcoming report, €œTablets Will Rule the Future Personal Computing Landscape.€

Big screens€”7 inches and larger€”daylong battery life, always-on capabilities and the ease with which tablets can be carried and passed around all contributed to the forecast, Gillett wrote. Also, while tablets are great for content consumption, Forrester expects that more content-creation apps will arrive for tablets, especially as developers begin to better understand how to take advantage of hand gestures and voice input technologies.

€œAs a result of the compelling user experience of Apple€™s iPad and the content-focused experience of the Amazon Kindle Fire, and other tablets, global tablet sales will continue to grow sharply over the next five years,€ wrote Gillett.

By 2016, Forrester expects global tablet sales to reach 375 million units, with one-third purchased by businesses and two-fifths (or 40 percent) by emerging markets. By that time, the firm expects the global installed base of tablets to be 760 million units strong.

Forrester€™s definition of a tablet, Gillett clarifies, is a slab that weighs less than 1.75 pounds, has a 7- to 14-inch (diagonal) display, and features both always-on capabilities and a minimum eight-hour battery life.

Additionally, this anticipated new dependence on tablets is expected to benefit that electronic granddad, the desktop PC. Over the last decade, the PC market has seen desktop sales hurt by laptop sales, which were hurt by netbooks, which were hurt by tablets€”which are bringing the cycle back around. Forrester expects that while tablets will be the device of choice for workers, those employees who need significant processing power and a large display will continue to use traditional desktop PCs.

€œOur casual estimate is that there will be 2 billion PCs in use by 2016, despite growing tablet sales,€ wrote Gillett.

ABI Research, the same day, pointed out that all of those tablets will yield serious app downloads. Estimated in the neighborhood of 13.7 billion by 2016, 80 percent of these are expected to fall within the categories of games, digital publishing, social networking or e-commerce.

Unlike increased smartphone use, tablets will bring along new groups of users, including seniors, who won€™t need special large-print publications, and children, both toddlers and elementary-age users, says ABI. By 2016, it expects users to download nearly 1 billion apps designed for children.

€œThe magic of media tablets for seniors and children is the touch-screen interface. It€™s so intuitive,€ Mark Beccue, an ABI senior analyst, said in a statement. €œThe demographic groups will rely heavily on downloaded apps over Web surfing on their media tablets.€

Heightened tablet use is also expected to benefit the publishing industry, with books, magazines and newspapers flourishing in a way never seen on smartphones, ABI wrote, adding that it also expects consumers to opt for €œthe more versatile media tablet over dedicated ebook readers.€

On April 24, Apple will announce the results of its quarter that ended March 31. Analysts estimate that during the quarter, the world€™s favored tablet maker likely shipped around 11 million iPads.