Forrester: Tablets to outsell netbooks by 2012

Fueled by a growing interest in tablet computers, nearly half a billion PCs will be sold to consumers in the US between now and 2015, according to a new report by Forrester Research. Over the next five years, PC unit sales across all form factors — desktops, notebooks and laptops, tablets, and netbooks — will increase by 52 percent, as outlined in the Forrester report, “The US Consumer PC Market In 2015.” Data in the report is based on Forrester’s latest five-year ForecastView for the personal computing and eReader markets in the US.

Despite an ongoing industry debate about how to define tablets, Forrester believes they should be classified as a form of personal computer.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously. Now, will the market share measurers finally begin to measure properly or will they opt to continue the ruse?

Tablet sales in the US will go from a modest 3.5 million units in 2010 to 20.4 million units in 2015, a 42 percent compound annual growth rate. Starting in 2012, tablets will outsell netbooks, and by 2014, more consumers will use tablets than use netbooks. In 2015, tablets will constitute 23 percent of PC unit sales.

MacDailyNews Take: Oh, puleeze, Apple alone will sell way more than 3.5 million iPads in 2010 and Forrester’s 2015 number is ludicrously, ridiculously, laughably, unbelievably low. So many just don’t get it! It continues to amaze us.

“Tablet growth will come at the expense of netbooks, which have a similar grab-and-go media consumption and Web browsing use case as tablets but don’t synchronize data across services like the iPad does,” said Forrester Research Analyst Sarah Rotman Epps. “Consumers didn’t ask for tablets. In fact, Forrester’s data shows that the top features consumers say they want in a PC are a complete mismatch with the features of the iPad. But Apple is successfully teaching consumers to want this new device.”

MacDailyNews Take: There’s no sense asking consumers what they want when they don’t know what they want. “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford

While desktop sales will slide over the next five years, going from 18.7 million units sold in 2010 to 15.7 units in 2015, desktops will continue to play a relevant role in the market, buoyed by consumers’ desire for processing-heavy activities such as gaming and watching and editing HD and 3D video and graphics.

By 2015, Forrester forecasts the US PC market will break down as such (based on percentage of units sold in 2015): notebooks (42 percent), tablets (23 percent), desktops (18 percent), and netbooks (17 percent).

“Product strategists should align their offerings to capitalize on these market shifts, with chipsets, displays, accessories, software, and content that anticipate the growth of tablets and the continued relevance of traditional PCs,” said Epps.

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.


  1. “Despite an ongoing industry debate about how to define tablets, Forrester believes they should be classified as a form of personal computer.”

    So, if the iPad is a “form of PC”, and the iPod touch and iPhone are just small iPads, then isn’t an iPod touch and iPhone a “form of PC”? So, shouldn’t Apple’s PC shipments be about 100M this year?

  2. I do not know where they dreamed up these numbers. But, lets play along. Apple’s iPad will have almost all of the “tablets (23 percent),” the Mac will be 1/3 to half of the “desktops (18 percent),” and why do they think that netbooks will be “17 percent”? Last year was the peak of netbook demand that fueled the PC box makers numbers. If you have a choice of iPad or netbook, the iPad will win 90 plus percent of the time. Look at the mp3 market and think bigger. Visit a college campus and see what is coming to work soon!

    This is the RISE OF THE APPLE like a tsunami!

  3. Yes, Anonymous©. The iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are computers. Even Steve Ballmer called the iPad a computer.

    I find it very funny that dedicated chips (a device) that runs your car is called a computer, but because the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch do not boot up with a Microsoft Windows logo, they can’t be a computer. Steve Jobs should let someone but Boot Camp on the iPad just to end this silly question.

    iPad, iPhone and iPod touch all meet the definition of a computer.

  4. Regardless of quibbles with the numbers, the overall picture painted by Forrester looks pretty accurate to me. I also agree that if PC market share for Microsoft gets to include embedded industrial apps, and POS dedicated devices, then all iOS hardware should be included as Apple PC market share.

  5. Not counting the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch as computers is like counting sheep and not including the black sheep because they are the wrong color. You still count a PC box that is connected to a scale, time clock, lab equipment, …

    Go ahead, don’t count them. Apple is going to eat your market share with these non-computer computer devices.

  6. And to make this more clear:

    Forrester thinks that iPads should be counted as PCs.
    Gartner is not sure, but as of now does not count iPads as PCs.
    I haven’t seen statement from IDC or GfK.

    This is an ongoing debate between those research companies.

  7. “desktop sales will slide over the next five years”

    Overall desktop sales will decrease, but Apple’s desktop sales will just keep increasing as more and more people fall in love with iPads and iPhones. The halo effect will be incredible for iMacs, Mac Mini’s, etc.

    The only companies that will be hurt by the migration away from desktops will be Microsoft, HP, Dell, etc.

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