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(Updated Nov. 15 with Oppenheimer’s forecast) Curious whether Gartner, IDC, Morgan Stanley, In-Stat, or some other   market research firm has the biggest crush on the tablet market? Then you’ve come to the right place!

I  gathered up all of the publicly-known  forecasts from the leading  market researchers and did as much  numbercrunching and chartmaking as  my limited Excel skills would allow,  in order to answer several burning  questions:

1) What firms have the highest and lowest 2010 forecasts for the global tablet market?

Global Tablet Market Forecasts for 2010
Analyst Firm Shipments (in   millions)
Gartner 19.5
Oppenheimer 15.1
Barclays Capital 15
Morgan Stanley 15
In-Stat 13.7
DisplaySearch 13.2
IDC 13.1
iSuppli 11
ABI Research 11

 

Smaller  analyst firms usually make the highest market forecasts,  since they  have less to risk (reputation-wise) and more to gain (in  attention)  from a boldly bullish call.

Surprisingly, it’s Gartner – so huge that analyst relations insiders have nicknamed it the Borg –  that is going out most on a limb, predicting sales of 20 million this  year,  or 33% more than the next-most bullish researcher (Oppenheimer).

But Carolina Milanesi, Gartner’s  guru for tablets, is unworried.

“The  all-in-one nature of media tablets will result in the  cannibalization  of other consumer electronics devices such as e-readers,  gaming devices  and media players,” she said in mid-October, adding that  netbooks will  suffer the most as tablet prices fall below $300.

Sound  reasoning, I think. However, empiricists should take note:  iSuppli,  DisplaySearch and In-Stat, which all produce copious research  on device  and PC components and thus often have very good insight into  what’s  actually happening in Asia and at the channel level, all expect the  tablet market to be only about half the size that Gartner sees.

2) Did the iPad’s success convince skeptical analysts to raise their tablet forecasts as 2010 progressed?

Definitely – check it out (click charts to see a larger version)

 From the beginning of the year til today, the forecasts grew 4 to 5x.  Or  put another way: tablet market forecasts in the first half of the year  averaged 10 million. After July 1st, they averaged 15 million.

And  depending on how the key Christmas season plays out, the actual market  may push past Gartner’s 20 million call.

3) So how do researchers see 2011?

Everyone sees near-hockey-stick-like growth, though they vary in their final 2011 forecast:

* This is the top of the range given by ABI analyst Jeff Orr in a July interview.‘Moderate’ forecast, from interview with ABI analyst Jeff Orr, Nov. 12, 2010  ** Upwardly revised figures.

In table format:

 

2011 Tablet Market (in Millions)
Analyst   firm Forecast
Gartner** 55
Morgan   Stanley 50
iSuppli 33
ABI   Research* ** 28
Barclays   Capital 28
DisplaySearch 25

4) So how about 2012 and beyond?

Analyst firms hate to  give away data they want to sell. So only Gartner was generous and gutsy  enough to put out forecasts for each of the next 5 years. It is more  bullish than other forecasts by a factor of 2-4x.

And in table form:

  

Tablet   Forecasts (in Millions)        
Analyst firm 2012 2013 2014 2015
Gartner** 103 154 208  
iSuppli 52      
ABI Research* **       80
Oppenheimer     115  
IDC**     60  
In-Stat     58  
Juniper Research       81
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