Apple will have a lock on the tablet market until 2013 at the earliest. That's the conclusion of a new study by the market researchers at DisplaySearch, who are predicting that Apple will sell as many as 40 million iPads this year alone. Meanwhile, the analytics firm Canalys says that for every 10 tablets that ship this year, 5 PC sales will be lost, further underscoring a major shift that's been underway in the computer industry. So if these trends hold, then very soon Apple could be the world's number one computer maker (that is, assuming you count iPads as computers, which they are), or at the very least in the top three.
DisplaySearch, in looking at the near-term trends for the world's touch panel manufacturers, estimates that Apple will buy 40 million touchscreens for iPads in 2011, as compared to the 15 million they bought last year. They also say only 60 million tablets total will sell this year, indicating that Apple's dominance will continue in 2011. It's not until 2013 that DisplaySearch estimates that every other manufacturer on planet Earth put together will finally sell as many tablets as Apple, leaving the iPad at "only" 50% market share.
The growth in tablet sales, according to a new report by Canalys, comes at the expense of "traditional" PCs, particularly netbooks. For every 10 "pads," as they call them (suggesting Apple's trademark may one day be, like "Band-Aid," a generic term), 5 PCs won't be sold. 200% more "pads" will be sold this year, as compared to only 8% more notebooks and 14% fewer netbooks. Last year 350 million PCs were sold, so with Canalys projecting that yearly pad sales will grow to 260 million in 2016, this suggests that by mid-decade there will be more pads sold than PCs.
One observer thinks this may mean that Apple will soon be the top PC maker. Jonny Evans at Computerworld guesstimates that Apple will have 20% of the world PC market this year, including tablets. This would propel them past Acer and have them within shouting distance of market leaders HP and Dell. Last year Goldman Sachs predicted Apple would sell 37 million tablets this year for a market share of 12%. Either way, that's a huge increase over last year's share of just 4.4%.