Tablets take lion's share of mobile broadband market

Sceptics think the iPad and its less popular younger brothers, in tablets, might well be a flash in the pan, but according to analyst figures they’re already accounting for the majority of mobile broadband devices.

2011’s mobile broadband devices are forecast to reach 157.9 million units shipped, compared to 100.1 million last year. The device category includes stuff like notebooks, netbooks and e-book readers.

Tablet shipments will continue to grow, with IHS figures sitting at a five year compound annual growth rate of 28.5 percent. Though they dwarf netbooks etc. this year with a huge growth rate, that expansion will steadily decline over the next couple of years – to 38.1 percent next year and down to 11 percent in 2015, to reach 350.7 million units. 

To us, it looks like what’s really driving the tablet  craze is Apple’s iPad. No one has managed to match it for seductive consumer electronics yet – and they might not at all, as Apple sits on design plans for the inevitable next model.

Thank heck, by 2015 mobile tablets should be compatible with LTE. Funny then that Intel, which desperately wants to hurl itself into the segment, publicly says it still has the same commitment to WiMAX. It doesn’t. It’s LTE all the way.

Meanwhile, IHS iSuppli says devices like tablets and smartphones are culling the need for single-task products. It makes perfect sense, put all the functionality in one device, suddenly you find you don’t need a radio, alarm clock, MP3 player, or even – for more casual users and as technology improves – a camera. 

Most strikingly, all-in-one media devices like smartphones and tablets are cutting into the gaming market. As casual gaming happily takes over the top charts, a lot of people are finding themselves playing  addictive games a couple of minutes at a time rather than sitting down for more involved, handheld gaming experiences. And those, too, are arriving on the smartphone and the tablet.