According to Forrester Research, tablet PC sales will overtake netbook sales by 2012. But Forrester also predicted just 1.2 million iPads will sell in 2010. On what alternative universe data is conclusion based?
Forrester's Research, by Sarah Rotman Epps, got a big chunk of press coverage yesterday. In one neat graphic it explained that Forrester thinks desktop PC sales are on an inexorable slide, that tablet PC sales are on a smooth rise, and that tablets will overtake netbook sales by 2012. Let's ignore the odd "percentages may not add up to 100% because of rounding" comment (which implies they're doing the roundings incorrectly) and say "Bravo!" This sort of trend has been obvious to many folks for months—and could even be predicted last year. In fact, I proclaimed the end of the netbook phenomenon was nigh, and the consumer would quickly see their limitations. And nobody interested in tech news could've missed the incredible storm of interest that was building months before the iPad launched.
Still, making this sort of prediction and pinning solid numbers on it, based on serious expertise, some research and hard math is this Forrester's business. It sells the data for cash, after all. But as they've noted over at Fortune, the statistics contain one totally incredible figure: Forrester's data suggests unit sales for all tablet PCs will total 3.5 million in 2010. That's this year. A year not yet half way through, and in which Apple has already sold 2 million iPads.
According to data revealed in a post over at AppleInsider, the iPad is currently selling at a rate of 1.2 million units per month—and this figure is certainly going to rise fast as the staged international roll-out continues. In other words, the sales figure for the iPad could easily surpass 10 million units in 2010. And we've not really seen many Android or Windows tablets from other big players hit the shelves yet—a generous sales estimate could imagine these folks selling 5 million units between them. Which makes for up to 15 million tablet PCs sold in 2010.
Do Forrester's analysts read the tech Net press, visit stores or even use technology at all? Epps doesn't: "Consumers didn't ask for tablets" is the killer phrase. Um, Sarah? ... yes they did. Loudly.
Update: Sarah Epps from Forrester has got in touch to underline that the figures represent sales in the U.S. only, and noted that "Apple's 2M is global." Which is indeed true, but the global sales push has only recently kicked off, and Apple achieved a sales figure of one million iPads faster than any other iDevice it's sold to date—with the device only on U.S. store shelves. With more media excitement swirling after the launch, even the average Joe who may have been unsure about this totally new device may now be tempted to buy one. And just thinking about it, for Apple to merely sell another one point something million devices in the U.S. in the remaining six months of the year is pretty incredible—and it would represent a complete sales flop. Epps asserts it's a "conservative not bonkers" stat, however.