Market research firm IDC believes so, raising its forecast of tablet shipments for the year to 62.5 million units, up from 53.5 million units, based on global media tablet shipments rising 88.9 percent on a sequential basis and 303.8 percent year over year in the second quarter to 13.6 million units.
That demand was heavily fueled by the release of Apple's iPad 2 in February, which saw shipments reach 9.3 million units, or a whopping 68.3 percent share of the worldwide market, up from 65.7 percent the previous quarter.
"Media tablet shipments grew at a solid pace in the second quarter, led by continued strong demand for Apple products," said Tom Mainelli, IDC's research director for mobile connected devices. "We expect shipment totals to continue to grow in the third and fourth quarter, as additional vendors introduce more price-competitive Android products into the market and Apple works to maintain its dominance in the category."
Putting more iPads in the hands of consumers and businesses is building a market that will ultimately be more open, said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.
"Right now, tablets are virtually an 'all-Apple' market," King said. "But as people and companies become more used to tablets -- both their inherent benefits and limitations -- that familiarity creates opportunities for others.
"We've seen this happen with other products that began as specialty items, PCs and smartphones among them. It seems counter-intuitive but sometimes a successful trailblazer can help pave the way for those who follow."
IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker also noted that Research In Motion entered the media tablet market in the second-quarter with its PlayBook, picking up 4.9 percent share of the market. But the share of tablets running Google's Android from a variety of manufacturers slipped to 26.8 percent, down from 34 percent the previous quarter.
In the second half of the calendar year, Android will further lose share, dropping to 23 percent, but will gain some momentum in the fourth quarter, IDC predicts. And nearly a million of Hewlett-Packard's discontinued TouchPad tablets, which run webOS, will ship into the channel by year's end, boosting that operating system's market share to 4.7 percent in the third quarter, IDC said. That device is being sold at the bargain price of $99.
IDC said the second quarter saw a 9 percent "seasonal dip" in eReaders, to 5.4 million units, although year-over-year growth was 167 percent. The most popular eReader was Amazon's Kindle with a 51.7 percent share of the market, compared to 21.2 percent for Barnes & Noble's Nook, with 21.2 percent.
Since eReaders make great holiday gifts, shipments will grow substantially through the coming Christmas season, IDC said, reaching a total of 27 million units for the year, up from the 16.2 million the company previously projected.
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