IDC predicts media tablet explosion

Having given their crystal balls a firm rub, soothdsayers at IDC predict that by 2014 tech firms will be shipping more than 46 million tablet-style computers a year.

Quite how many of these will be Apple flavoured remains to be seen, but with every Tom Dick and Huang jumping on the bandwagon, IDC seems to think that punters will be persuaded to start taking the tablet in their millions.

The researchers reckon the apps being created with the iPad in mind will make the format compelling, boosting world-wide shipments will from 7.6 million units this year to more than 46 million units in 2014 - an annual compound annual growth rate of 57.4 per cent.

"These are early days for media tablets, an altogether new device category that takes its place between smartphones and portable PCs," said Susan Kevorkian, IDC's programme director for mobile media and entertainment, in a statement last week. "IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and services."

She reckons the availability of, "apps, unique to media tablets and that differentiate the experience of using one compared with a PC or smartphone will be crucial for driving consumer demand. As the category matures and more media tablet-optimized apps become available, IDC expects that media tablets will evolve beyond nice-to-have devices and become necessities for many consumers."

IDC defines media tablets as tablet form factor devices with 7-12 inch colour displays. Mostly they are currently based on ARM processors and run lightweight operating systems such as Apple's iPhone OS and Google's Android. This distinguishes them from tablet PCs, which are based on x86 processors and run full PC operating systems. IDC expects 398 million portable PCs will be shipped in 2014.

Media tablets do not include built-in hardware keyboards but use a stylus/pen or finger for navigation and data input. They areexemplified by Apple's iPad, are tablet form factor consumer electronics devices that are considered separately from tablet PCs, the firm said.