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March 21, 2011

Big Corporations Will Lead Tablet Growth




Enterprises will buy 50 times as many tablets in 2011 as they did in 2010, making them almost as common as netbooks.

That's great news for Apple -- and perhaps some of its tablet competitors like Research In Motion, which is targeting IT departments with features like security.  But it's not great for Microsoft, which won't have a tablet competitor out until Windows 8 in late 2012.

The prediction comes from U.K. market researcher Canalys, which says that enterprises bought about 20,000 tablets (or "pads") in 2010, but will buy more than 1.1 million this year -- a growth rate of more than 5,000%. Canalys also says that netbook sales will increase slightly, from 1.5 million to 1.8 million.

Both numbers pale against sales of traditional notebooks to enterprises, which will increase 11% to 96 million this year, Canalys predicts. Most of those notebooks will run Windows, so Microsoft's hold on the enterprise will remain relatively safe for now.

Canalys expects the notebook PC category to grow nearly 8% in 2011, despite the impact of pads, thanks to the ongoing Windows 7 refresh and improving business confidence in the commercial sector. Netbooks, however, will decline by about 13% to 34 million units. 

Overstocked retail channels in many countries, including the United States, much of Western Europe, China and Indonesia, will further hinder notebook growth in the first part of the year. Even Russia, where high oil prices have led to a PC boom, has become oversupplied.
Political revolutions and protests in the Middle East and North Africa have brought the markets there to a virtual stop, and it is difficult to predict how long this disruption will last. There is a risk that political turbulence will spread even further afield. In addition, the recent events in Japan will mean some short-term disruptions to the supply chain, but it will take weeks to fully assess the damage and consequences. Canalys expects that there will likely be a small noticeable impact to global PC shipments.

But consumerization is a big trend in IT. That means where consumers go, enterprises eventually follow.

And the consumer market contains much worse news for Microsoft. Canalys predicts that Apple and its competitors will sell 50 million tablets (up 200%) to consumers this year, versus 32 million netbooks (down 14%) and 113 million notebooks (up only 5%). 
Overall, Canalys says that every two tablets purchased will replace the sale of one netbook or laptop.