The tablet industry could see sales of $49 billion in just another four years, says a new report from Strategy Analytics.
If the forecast comes true, that would mean a jump in revenues from essentially zero in 2009 and could open the door for tablet sales to surpass those of every other consumer category except TVs and PCs by 2015, according to the research firm.
The surge in demand for tablets is also expected to translate across the world, according to Strategy Analytics.
"We predict 80 percent of the value of the tablet market in 2015 will reside in both high-tier and entry-tier models, as tablets address the opportunities in both developed and emerging markets such as the Asia Pacific region," Strategy Analytics Director Neil Mawston said in a statement."
Tablet makers will see their biggest opportunities in North America, Asia Pacific, and Western Europe, added Strategy Analytics associate director Martin Bradley. But since the average selling prices in the Asia Pacific region will be less than 85 percent of those in Western Europe in another four years, the total value of Asia Pacific will surpass that of Western Europe.
After capturing 84 percent of global tablet shipments last year, will Apple still dominate the market by 2015?
Though he declined to reveal specific forecasts, Mawston told CNET that he expects the iPad maker to struggle to hang onto its high market share in the wake of more Android and Windows tablets released over the next few years. He cited Android as holding the potential to grab a larger chunk of the market, especially based on its current share.
"Android captured 13 percent of global tablet shipments in 2010," Mawston said. "This is a relatively low base from which to grow and there is ample scope for Android and its dozens of hardware partners to gain market share over the next few years."
Looking at the tablet makers themselves, Mawston said that Apple's major rivals in developed markets such as the U.S. are Samsung, RIM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, LG, and Acer. Rivals in other developed areas such as China include ZTE, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, and Huawei. Though Apple will retain its dominant share over the next few years, "the wave of Android vendors could eventually put pressure on Apple by attempting to inflict 'pain by a thousand cuts'," Mawston added.
A recent report from Gartner also found that while the iPad will continue to dominate over the coming years, its share is expected to decline as the competition heats up.
Tablets have been blamed for cannibalizing sales of PCs, especially laptops. Strategy Analytics sees that as simply a shift in the industry from keyboard-based laptops to touchscreen-based tablets. But Mawston points to Netbooks as the segment most cannibalized by tablets and as a result expects global Netbook sales to shrink by 25 percent over the next four years.