iPad to Lead Android in 2011 Tablet Sales: Forrester

Apple's iPad will lead Android in a 2011 tablet market that should hit 24.1 million, according to Forrester Research. The note comes as the Consumer Electronics Shows gets underway.

While many expect the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show to be a big coming-out party for the Android tablet, Forrester Research has revised its previous conservative estimates and now expects the 2011 tablet market to be 2.5 times what it was in 2010.

Forrester analyst Sara Rotman Epps said Jan. 4 that she expects tablet sales to top 24.1 million, more than double the 10.3 million she estimates were sold through 2010.

"When Apple's iPad first debuted, we saw the device as a game-changer but were too conservative with our forecast. Since then, we've fielded additional consumer surveys and an SMB and enterprise survey, conducted additional supply-side research, and seen more sales numbers from Apple. We've had briefings from many companies that will release new tablets at CES. All of these inputs have led us to revise our U.S. consumer tablet forecast," she said.

Epps was certainly conservative in her June forecast, when she predicted 3.5 million tablets would sell. In fact, her 2010 revision was greater than her 8.4 million tablet estimate for 2011.

Just one small thing: even the 10.3 million tablet tally for 2010 feels conservative. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimated iPad sales of 14.5 million for 2010. Throw in at least 1 million units of the Samsung Galaxy Tab sold, and Epps is still shorting the tablet pie.

One thing she hasn't done is backed off her stance on the iPad as market leader. She said the lion's share will be iPads in 2011 and even into 2012 despite "many would-be competitors that will be released at CES."

One reason is that adults will give their children hand-me-down iPads next year, and buy the iPad 2 with front- and rear-facing cameras and other new perks for themselves, Epps said.

"We think a significant number of first-generation iPad buyers will buy iPad 2 when it comes out this year-many first-gen iPads will end up entertaining the kids in the back of the car while Mom and Dad get the shiny new (likely Facetime-compatible) model," Epps said.

On that score, Epps and Munster agree. He expects the iPad to command a 53 percent market share through 2011, with Google's Android platform grabbing 32.5 percent.

Ultimately, by 2015, 82 million U.S. consumers will be using a tablet, and not all of them will be iPads, Epps concluded.

Epps was dead on about the iPad rival frenzy at CES, which eWEEK is covering this week. There will be a lot of iPad rivals there, mostly from the open-source Android front.

Vizio announced an Android tablet Jan. 3. Asustek unveiled three Android 3.0 tablets on Jan. 5, ahead of CES. Motorola is expected to unveil a new Android machine. Lenovo is unveiling its LePad Slate, which runs Android 2.2 and Windows 7.

To wit, don't discount the appearance of Microsoft tablets either. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is giving the keynote speech tonight and is likely to introduce long-awaited Windows 7 tablets.