It’s hard to believe that come April, it will be a full year since Apple unleashed the iPad on the world. Since then, the device has mostly lived up to expectations, rolling up impressive sales totals and spurring competitors to launch their own versions of the tablet computer to keep up.
While tablet computers have yet to ascend to must-have status for most consumers out there, two separate reports predict that the demand for the devices will steadily rise in the next 4-5 years and that manufacturers could see a huge boost in sales as a result.
In the first report, Harris Interactive is forecasting that by 2014, one out of every five U.S. consumers will own a tablet computer.
Meanwhile, another report from Forrester Research Inc. says that 10.3 million tablets were purchased in the U.S. last year and predicts that eventually, total sales of tablets in the U.S. from 2010-2015 will reach 195 million.
Yes, that’s a lot!
As the title of Forrester’s report (“Tablets Will Grow as Fast as MP3 Players”) suggests, the consultancy expects tablets to eventually take on the same role with consumers that MP3 players and smart phones do now—i.e. a regular part of daily life. Forrester further expects many current iPad users to upgrade to second generation models this year, which will play a huge role in the boost in overall tablet sales.
Starting next year, annual tablet sales will exceed that of notebook computers as well, Forrester says. Besides the ‘cool’ factor that is expected to drive the increased demand in iPads and other tablets, Forrester cites another that could play an even bigger role: falling prices. Prices on e-readers, which Forrester lumps in with the general category of tablets, have already fallen by two thirds in the last three years alone, while it’s expected that Apple will knock off $100 a year on the current $499 price of iPads by 2012. Those manufacturers with higher-end tablets will likely struggle to keep up as a result, according to the Forrester research.
iPads and tablets have obviously become some of the most popular products out there for online shoppers, though this research suggests that a stronger market saturation is still a few years off.
What do you think though? Leave us your thoughts and comments.