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Report: Global Tablet Sales to Exceed 80 Million by 2012

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The tablet computer category is rapidly going from nonexistent to ubiquitous.

Global sales of computer tablet devices like the iPad will exceed 80 million by 2012, according to a new report from eMarketer. The researcher predicts that after 15.7 million tablet devices are purchased in 2010, in just two years sales will balloon by 418 percent to 81.3 million units worldwide.

Not surprising, it will be Apple’s iPad that will be driving that phenomenal growth, expects eMarketer. After introducing the wildly popular device just this past April, Apple is expected to sell 13.3 million iPads in 2010, per the report. By 2012, sales should reach a staggering 56.1 million units, representing nearly 70 percent of the market.

According to eMarketer analyst Paul Verna, the iPad is following a similar pattern to its sibling—the iPhone. Apple essentially ignited the smartphone market a few years ago with the iPhone’s launch. The product still maintains a hefty market share, but multiple competitors, including an array of Android-based phones, have emerged as serious players.

“The tablet market is not shaping up to be a winner-take-all scenario,” said Verna.