Friday, January 21, 2011

And the Numbers Are In...

Just yesterday, IDC released numbers for Q3 sales of tablets around the globe. As expected, those numbers were very good and as expected, a good percentage of them were iPads. Specifically, the numbers show that Apple made up nearly 90% of all tablets sold in the quarter with 4.2 million sales (of 4.8 million total shipments).

Of course, that’s the not the number I’m most interested in. The final numbers for total shipments in 2010 is expected to be roughly 17 million (once Q4 numbers are finalized) and a lot of those will be iPads for sure (though the Galaxy Tab made a nice run at the end of last year). But, it’s the prognostication for 2011 and 2012 that really draws my attention. IDC has pegged the 2011 market to be somewhere in the vicinity of 44 million tablets with 2012 expected to sell more than 70 million.

Of course, no one company could maintain numbers like that alone. Just like with the smartphone market which saw a huge surge in popularity with the iPhone, but ultimately gained most after Android was released, the tablet market looks ready to explode on the precipice of a widespread Android 3.0 rush.

It’s not just Android and manufacturers like Motorola and Asus that are pushing the market, however. Yes, Apple will have a new iPad available soon – probably in April – and it will likely sport at least 80% of the upgrades that Apple’s customer base has been driving for (the usual almost everything upgrade). But, there are also newcomers slated to hit the market soon, including RIM with their Playbook, HP with WebOS, and the newest versions of MeeGo. Windows tablets are still a tossup with third party extension being absolutely necessary at this point to drive any kind of innovation in those devices, but even so, by the time 2012 rolls around, we might be looking at the first Windows 8 tablets.

It’s amazing to see the growth we’ve seen in only the last 9 months. A year ago we were prognosticating that the tablet market might take off any time and Apple’s new device seemed like a tossup – it could be popular…or it could be a flop. And yet, with the iPad wedging open a new market and millions of consumers turning their attention to this burgeoning market, we are getting ready to enter a completely new era in mobile technology and personal devices.

I’m interested to see where it leads us – not just in sales numbers (these companies could sell anything), but in the actual real world uses of those products. How will they impact our lives in the two or three years to come and how will they affect the way business gets done? Those are the questions I am most excited to have answered.

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