Worldwide media tablet sales to end users will total 118.9 million units this year, a 98 percent increase from the 60 million units sold in 2011, market research firm Gartner has forecast.

And those numbers should triple to 369.25 million units in 2016, the research firm says.

Despite the arrival of Microsoft-based tablets later this year, and the expected international rollout of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Apple will continue to be the market leader through the forecast period to 2016, Gartner says.

It predicts only a modest entry to the market by Microsoft, accounting for just 4.1 percent of tablet sales this year, and growing to about 11.8 percent, or 43.6 million units, by the end of 2016 – see chart.

By contrast in that year Apple should sell almost 170 million tablets, while Android will be used in 137.6 million.

Android tablets are forecast to account for 31.9 percent of media tablet sales in 2012, with Apple capturing 61.4 percent, or almost double Android sales.

Gartner analysts believe enterprise sales of media tablets will account for about 35 percent of total tablet sales in 2015 – but they warn these sales will not be clearly defined as enterprise purchases.

That’s because the rise of the BYOD phenomenon will see most of these tablets being bought direct by consumers who use them at work as well as at home.

“This poses a big threat to vendors that thought about focusing on the enterprise market, who will now have to become appealing to consumers as well,” says research VP Carolina Milanesi.

Gartner’s detailed report, Forecast: Media Tablets by Operating System, Worldwide, 2010-2016, 1Q12 Update, is now available on its Web site.


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