ABi (Anything But iPad) Business Tablets Face An Uphill Slog In 2011

No need to revisit the success of iPad. The millions of units sold since April speaks for itself. While most of these have been purchased at retail, many buyers use their tablets for work, often sponsored or supported by an enlightened IT organization. 2011 will be a big year for iPad in the enterprise.

But what about the countless number of tablets from other manufacturers? These anything-but-iPad (ABi) tablets promise enticing characteristics that Content & Collaboration professionals cherish, things like Flash media support, enterprise app stores, and sometimes greatly enhanced security (as RIM’s Playbook will have) or deep links to the unified communications infrastructure (as Cisco’s Cius will have) or full Microsoft Office support (as HP’s Slate will have).

How will these ABi tablets fare in the enterprise in 2011? Fair to partly cloudy, I fear. Three gating factors will slow enterprise adoption:

  1. Many ABI tablets and particularly those from RIM and Cisco and HP will be sold primarily to companies. So in a world of smartphone and tablet consumerization where employees bring personal devices to work, the leading ABi business tablets are being sold through the enterprise door. This will slow down adoption as IT buyers find the budget and evaluate the alternatives. In contrast, iPad is available to consumers as well as directly to businesses. So IT can at least temporarily sidestep the issues of funding and data plan provisioning while developing a tablet strategy. It’s an easier business case to make in 2011. Of course, other Android tablets are available to consumers and will come in through the employee door.
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US Tablet Sales Will More Than Double This Year

Today Forrester published its revised US consumer tablet forecast, updating its previous forecast from June 2010. When Apple's iPad first debuted, we saw the device as a game-changer but were too conservative with our forecast. Since then, we've fielded additional consumer surveys and an SMB and enterprise survey, conducted additional supply-side research, and seen more sales numbers from Apple. We've had briefings from many companies that will release new tablets at CES. All of these inputs have led us to revise our US consumer tablet forecast for 2010 upward to 10.3 million units, and we expect sales to more than double in 2011 to 24.1 million units. Of those sales, the lion's share will be iPads, and despite many would-be competitors that will be released at CES, we see Apple commanding the vast majority of the tablet market through 2012.

Forrester's US Consumer Tablet Forecast, updated Jan. 4, 2011:

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