Apple iPad, Tablet Sales to Increase Global IT Spending: Gartner

Gartner, adding in media tablets such as the Apple iPad, has raised its estimates for global IT spending-which is now expected to reach $3.6 trillion in 2011.

The Apple iPad and the media-tablet market it has given rise to continue to affect the larger tech world.

Market research firm Gartner, since deciding to add media tablets to its worldwide IT spending projections, has raised its outlook for 2011. The firm now expects IT spending in 2011 to reach $3.6 trillion-a 5.6 percent increase from 2010's $3.4 trillion, and a bump up from its earlier 5.1 percent growth estimate.

Gartner's IT hardware spending estimates have also been increased from 7.5 percent to 9.5 percent in 2011. Additionally, worldwide spending on tablets alone is expected to reach $29.4 billion this year, up from 2010's $9.6 billion. Spending on tablets is expected to average a growth rate of 52 percent through 2015.

"The addition of media tablets, reinforced by an expected additional decline in the value of the dollar, accounts for the increase in top-line growth," Richard Gordon, research vice president at Gartner, said in a March 30 statement. "Absent the addition of media tablets, the forecast would have slightly declined in constant-dollar terms; however, with their addition, there's virtually no change in the underlying forecast growth at the level of overall IT."

This is maybe where Apple CEO Steve Jobs deserves a tip of the hat for turning just about everyone on to a device that just about no one thought they needed. Reviewing the original Pad in the Wall Street Journal in 2010, Walter Mossberg wrote that, while undeniably attractive, the iPad would need to prove itself a workable replacement for a laptop or netbook for common tasks. This, he added, "may not be easy, because previous tablet computers have failed to catch on in the mass market, and the iPad lacks some of the features ... that most laptop or netbook users have come to expect." While it may not have been easy, Apple certainly made it look easy, selling more than a million in less than a month.

The Gartner report added that worldwide IT spending on software, which totaled $237 billion in 2010, is expected to increase to $255 billion in 2011; spending on IT services is expected to rise from $785 billion to $824 billion; and telecom expenses are forecast to increase from 2010's $2.01 trillion to $2.11 trillion.

These forecasts, the firm added, come despite the current political unrest in the Middle East-an area that generally accounts for 2 percent of global IT spending, making any changes "insignificant" on the global level.

The impact of the recent disasters in Japan, however, cannot yet be fully understood.

"We had largely completed our forecast by the time the recent natural disasters in Japan occurred, and we are still evaluating their likely impact on our forecast," Gordon said in the statement. "On this point, we are looking at two potential effects on IT markets as a result of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan: consequences of disruptions in the global electronics supply chain and impacts on IT demand."

According to research firm Objective Analysis, 25 percent of the world's semiconductor production capacity is in Japan, and more than 60 percent of the silicon wafers that are the start of semiconductor chips are made in Japan. Damages to semiconductor plants, and the logistical difficulties of getting materials in and out of Japan, following March 11's earthquake and subsequent tsunami, are expected to pose challenges to manufacturers such as Apple. According to a March 17 report from IHS iSuppli, at least five components in the iPad 2 are sourced from Japanese firms.

Nonetheless, on March 25, Apple expanded the availability of the iPad 2 to 25 additional countries.

"We appreciate everyone's patience, and we are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone," Jobs said in a March 22 statement.