BOSTON – U.S. retail-level sales of tablets for the consumer market will grow this year by 62 percent in dollars to $23.7 billion on a 90 percent gain in factory shipments to 52.8 million, Fu- turesource Consulting forecasts.
Sales contrast sharply with 9.3 mil- lion units and $6 billion in 2010, when Apple launched its first iPad.
The consumer market will represent 92 percent of overall U.S. tablet unit shipments in 2012, the company noted.
With 2012 growth, household pen- etration of tablets in the U.S. will grow to 24.9 percent, up from 2010’s 2.6 percent, said Simon Bryant, Future- source’s head of consumer electronics. The 2012 U.S. penetration rate will be the highest of any country in the world, with the U.K. coming in second at 14.9 percent.
Because demand in the U.S. out- paces demand in other countries, U.S. unit shipments will account for 42.6 percent of all global shipments in 2012 and 66.2 percent of all consumer-market tablet shipments in the eight largest tablet markets.
Relative to the world market, how- ever, U.S. growth is beginning to slow because of the high U.S. penetration rate, said Bryant. Globally, tablet ship- ments will grow 95 percent in 2012 to 124 million units.
Bryant attributed global tablet growth to the growing availability and demand for mobile entertainment content, in- cluding apps, e-books, videos, music streaming and the like as well as to managing email and surfing the web.
Apple dominates the market with a “staggering 54 percent delta between it and its nearest competitor Amazon” in the second quarter, and Apple’s share “held firm in recent quarters against mounting competition,” he said.
In the fourth quarter, Apple faces competition from Google and Micro- soft in addition to incumbents Amazon and Samsung, among others, he con- tinued, but the iPad Mini “will help Ap- ple’s cause in Q4 and should inject ad- ditional growth into the smaller screen category,” Bryant said.
In terms of channel distribution, al- most 80 percent of U.S. tablets sold at the retail level in 2012 will be sold direct via Apple Direct, CE specialists and e- tailers (such as Amazon), with each channel holding roughly the same share of sales, he said. Mass merchandisers, supermarkets and telecom channel make up the remaining share.
Futuresource described the long- term prospects for the tablet industry “to be very positive, with strong growth throughout the forecast period through 2016.” The growth is driven “by a wid- ening array of mobile content for tab- lets, price erosion which is making the product widely available to an increased user-base, and product replacement as consumers consider upgrading and buying the next big thing,” said analyst Joe Mugan.
“Multiple tablet ownership per house- hold will also drive market growth, as advances continue to be made in the range of uses and applications avail- able,” Mugan said.