iPad Dominates As Tablet Market Explodes: IDC

Tablet PC shipments grew at an astonishing rate in the third quarter -- up 45 percent sequentially according to IT market researcher IDC -- and Apple's iPad accounted for the lion's share of the market.

IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker report found that 90 percent of the 4.8 million media tablets shipped in the third quarter were iPads.

While this is great news for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and its shareholders, its virtual monopoly in this white-hot market is about to come to an end as a flood of new Android- and BlackBerry-powered tablets are set in the next few months to take on the 800-pound gorilla.

In the second quarter, Apple and a small handful of overmatched competitors shipped a total of 3.3 million tablets worldwide.

IDC said the popularity of tablets and ereaders, dominated by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) with 42 percent market share, will spark unprecedented growth for both device makers and application developers serving gadget-crazed consumers and enterprise customers who are just now starting to embrace tablets and smartphones as viable alternatives to traditional desktop and laptop PCs.

"The media tablet market's rapid evolution will continue to accelerate in 4Q10 and beyond with new product and service introductions, channel expansion, price competition and experimentation with new use cases among consumers and enterprises," Susan Kevorkian, research director of IDC's mobile connected devices group, said in the report.

Ereader shipments surged 40 percent in the third quarter to more than 2.7 million units. Americans accounted for nearly 75 percent of all ereader purchases in the quarter.

Amazon led the ereader pack with 42 percent of all shipments, followed by Pandigital (16 percent), Barnes & Noble (15 percent), Sony and Hanvon at 8 percent, respectively. IDC is forecasting more than 10.8 million ereaders will have been shipped in 2010 and that figure will jump to 14.7 million this year and more than 16.6 million in 2012.

And while it will surely face more competition from the likes of Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's PlayBook and dozens of others, there's still plenty of room for Apple to grow, especially considering its second-generation iPadis expected to become available in the next few months.

For now, IDC is expecting tablet PC shipments of more than 44.6 million units in 2011, more than double the 17 million units sold last year, and nearly 40 percent of all these new tablets will be sold in the U.S.

As if that weren't promising enough, IDC predicts more than 70.8 million tablets will be sold worldwide in 2012.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


Amazon, iPad, Apple, tablet PCs, eReaders