Apple's iPad could launch another industry — at least analysts and vendors in the tablet market think so.
As iPod did with the MP3 market and iPhone with smartphones, the new iPad is expected to have a sweeping impact.
Apple's new device — and new offerings from Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo — are expected to invigorate the estimated $1.3 billion worldwide market for tablets. (Sales declined 18% in 2009.)
Market researcher Gartner forecasts worldwide tablet PC sales of 10.5 million units in 2010, up from 1.06 million last year. It does not break out iPad figures, but expects the device to account for a vast majority of sales. Another researcher, iSuppli, expects worldwide iPad sales of 7.1 million units in 2010, 14.4 million in 2011 and 20.1 million in 2012.
"This will be a huge driver in the market," says Leslie Fiering, an analyst at Gartner. "The Apple mystique revolutionized the MP3 and smartphone markets. It will do the same with tablets."