Apple iPad
Early adopters of the iPad prefer free content and ad-supported apps on the device rather than paying for content directly. REUTERS

Total global revenue from tablet devices like Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tab will increase from 16 billion dollars in 2010 to a whopping 46 billion dollars in 2014, according to a report released Wednesday by U.S. technology research firm Yankee Group.

The growth in this market is unprecedented, said Dmitriy Molchanov, Yankee Group analyst and author of the forecast. The tablet sales curve is rising faster than that of HDTVs, handheld gaming consoles or even MP3 players.

Apple Inc.'s iPad, the main player in today's tablet market, costs $499 to $829 depending on the configuration. According to the forecast, the average tablet price tag will be $237 in 2015, the report said.

By 2014, North America will hold just 17 percent of the global tablet market, down from 37 percent in 2010, according to the report, as demand in Asia rises.

The market for e-readers, such as Amazon's Kindle, is expected to quadruple, from about $2 billion in 2010 to $8 billion in 2014. Yankee Group considers e-readers a separate category and doesn't include them in the tablet forecast. The firm expects the average selling price to drop to $113 in 2014 from $170 in 2010.

Key global and U.S. findings include:

  • In 2010, North America leads the way. The region accounts for 37 percent of total global tablet revenue.
  • By 2014, Asia-Pacific is the front-runner. The region, primarily China, will own more than half the global market (58 percent), while North America's share will drop to just 17 percent.
  • Annual U.S. tablet sales will more than triple between 2010 and 2015. Tablet sales will grow at a CAGR of 31 percent, from roughly 8 million units in 2010 to 30 million units by 2015.
  • The average tablet price tag in the U.S. will drop to just $237 by 2015. Reference models, open source OSs and economies of scale in touch-screen manufacturing will help cut the average selling price in half over the next few years.

Yankee Group issued the forecast the day before the official start of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Tablets are an especially hot item at this year's trade show.