Tablet Sales Hit 121 Million Last Year, And Will Continue To Blow Past Expectations

Tablets have scaled faster than any computing device in history, and don’t expect them to slow down anytime soon. 

Tablet shipments have jumped from 17 million in 2010 — the year the iPad was launched — to 121 million in 2012. 

That 121 million figure, which we’ve compiled from data put out by IDC, Gartner, and Strategy Analytics, is in line with the 122 million we forecasted for 2012 late last year.

IDC came out with a new tablet forecast yesterday projecting that 190 million tablets would be shipped this year and that shipments would climb to 352 million in 2017. That’s a significant upward revision from June of last year, when IDC called for 143 million tablet shipments this year and only 222 million in 2016 (the June numbers were themselves an upward revision from a previous forecast).

We believe that annual tablet shipments will continue to exceed expectations for several reasons:

  • Mini-tablets have driven broad price disruption in the market, which will drive sales skyward in the next couple of years. Even Apple bowed to the market and released a cheaper device. For consumers worldwide, a tablet is becoming an accessible purchase: it’s not necessarily more expensive than a smartphone, and doesn’t require pricey cell plans to be enjoyed.  
  • Tablets are just getting started globally. As we discuss in our report on tablet ownership trends, adoption is still fairly concentrated in the U.S. and Europe. Nominal tablet shipments within China remain low, but there is reason to believe that there is a significant grey market that is flying under the radar.
  • Tablets are not just a stripped-down laptop, but a disruptive media consumption device.  

We forecast that tablet sales will hit 206 million this year and skyrocket to 442 million by 2016.

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annual tablet shipments

Here’s the quarterly tablet data:

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quarterly tablet shipments


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