Tablet computers are poised to transform the marketplace for personal computers and consumer electronics, according to eMarketer, which sees cumulative worldwide sales of tablet computers exceeding 140 million units by the end of 2012. That's a combined total of 15.7 million devices sold in 2010, plus a projected 43.6 million in 2011 and another 81.3 million in 2012.
The Apple iPad will dominate this burgeoning market, with a total 13.3 million units sold in 2010, followed by 33.1 million in 2011, and 56.1 million in 2012, for cumulative sales of 102.5 million by the end of that year.
The 2012 sales figure represents about 69% of the total market forecast for that year, down from an 85% share this year. U.S. iPad sales are expected to increase from 8.5 million this year to 19.4 million in 2011 and 30.1 million in 2012.
If accurate, the 2011-2012 projections extend a remarkable sales record for the iPad following its debut in April. By the beginning of May, total iPad sales had passed 1 million, climbing to 2 million by the beginning of June and 5 million by the beginning of August.
According to eMarketer, 62% of all tablet computer sales are expected to occur in the U.S. in 2010, but 2011-2012 will see a growing proportion sold abroad, especially in Europe and Asia. Focusing on the U.S., the number of Americans who own a tablet computer is expected to jump from 9.7 million this year to 24 million in 2011 and 40.6 million in 2012 -- representing an increase from 3.1% to 12.8% of the total population during that period.
Hoping to cash in on the surge of interest in the iPad and tablet computers generally, publishers are rushing to introduce digital editions of newspapers and magazines optimized for viewing on tablet devices. They are also hurrying production of a new generation of digital-only magazines for the iPad, including The Daily from News Corp., Project from Virgin and News+ and Roadtrip from Bonnier.
The Daily will employ about 150 people, including editorial, business and technical responsibilities, with a first-year budget of $30 million. Virgin's Project -- a monthly digital magazine led by former FHM editor Anthony Noguera -- debuted earlier this month with an interactive cover featuring Jeff Bridges in "Tron."
Bonnier's News+ aggregates interesting and important news from across the Web for consumption on the tablet computer, while Roadtrip is devoted to automobile leisure travel, and includes video, interactive travel-planning tools and Facebook sharing.